Join A Committee For Career Advancement
By Mark Swartz
Working in the same job for a while can start isolating you. Nearby colleagues, your boss, and maybe certain people in a few other departments know you. What about beyond that?
Joining a committee can broaden your exposure. You contribute some of your skills and time. In return you get a host of career-assisting paybacks.
Just about every employer has committees, consisting of workplace volunteers led by a presiding chairperson. Your boss and HR rep can help you get on board one that’s right for you.
What Committees Do
Everyone at work has their own duties and responsibilities. Each workplace has its own too, such as a duty to fulfill its mission, keep the premises safe, and a responsibility to be environmentally conscious. Some of these obligations are carried out by forming and running committees – groups of people who are usually selected or appointed to perform given functions.
Committees may be known by another name. Task forces and working groups are typical synonyms. Regardless of the label they need people with specific skills and knowledge to carry out tasks that help fulfill the group’s mandate. That’s where you come in.
The average workplace divides its committees into two levels of importance: those that are vital to achieving the employer’s mission, and ones that are more of a supportive nature.
Among the vital groups that form could be a task force to deal with emergency business disruptions, an ongoing health and safety team in a manufacturing facility, quality control, and a strategic planning/leadership troupe.
On the supportive side there are committees dedicated to environmental improvements, morale boosting and social activities, learning and growth, employee wellness, and company-wide communication of positive news.
How They’re Structured
A committee is normally made up of leadership and members. A small group may have a single leader. Everyone else serves in a contributory role.
Larger groups tend to create specialized sub-committees for more efficiency. So a large Health and Safety action force may have a leadership team (chairperson, co-chair, minutes taker), and a number of sub-groups or Special Interest Groups (SIGs), such as Action Planning, Monitoring, Communications, and so on.
Ways They Can Advance Your Career
There are many benefits to being on a committee. You should look for the right role in a group you can do well in. Then focus on the types of opportunities that meet your professional development needs, for instance:
- Leadership of a committee or sub-group
- Project management planning and execution
- Acquiring other specialized knowledge and skills
- Gaining visibility by standing out via your efforts
- Teamwork experience if you are too used to working alone
- Network expansion with new internal contacts
In addition, you could impress people on the team who are from other parts of the company. That could be important if you are thinking about transferring or getting references from beyond your immediate circle. Plus you can add your new achievements to your resume and social media profiles.
Thriving In A Committee Role
You may be appointed involuntarily to assist in a group. Or you might have a chance to join freely. Either way, word of your performance once aboard will get back to your boss. Treat your involvement as an integral part of your job. Show up on time. Complete tasks you’ve promised to do. Offer to assist others generously.
Try to get a role that suits your current abilities and prove your worth quickly. Then volunteer for stretch assignments – which force you to diversify your skills. All the while keep your supervisor informed of what you’re doing. They may be wondering where you’re at for that part of the day or week.
Be it on a task force, working group, or formally structured committee, your participation will matter. Parlay those learn on the job efforts into greater visibility and preparation for your next stage career steps.