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Congratulations, You're On The Committee - But I've Never Done This Before
by School Programs USA

Well, you did it. Perhaps it was to do your part to become involved and participate in making a difference. Perhaps it was because your involvement was in the best interest of your attending children. It may have been because you didn’t like the way things were being done and you felt you could do a more suitable job. Or maybe you volunteered simply because no one else was willing. Regardless of the reason or reasons why you decided to take the plunge, you did it. You are now on the committee. Now what?

This is a common scenario that many parent volunteers or nominated committee members suddenly find themselves thinking when first taking over a position or joining a committee. It may initially seem a bit overwhelming, but having a clear understanding of your position and expectations is the first step to accepting your new position and succeeding.

You may have been lucky enough to have previously served on the committee in a smaller capacity which may have allowed you to become more familiar with the duties and expectations of your new position. This may have also allowed you to meet and become comfortable with the other members of your committee. Many committee members feel this is the best way to become a positive, productive member, by first entering in a minimal capacity and then evolving to a more prominent position. Many new committee members may not have this luxury, as they are accepting an immediate vacancy and are faced with the new responsibility without any previous understanding or experience. Regardless of the situations leading to you recent responsibilities, you have accepted the task of your new position and must focus on stepping up and doing the best job you can do to become an integral part of your committee's achievements and success.

The good news is you are not alone. Every committee member, past and present, have all had the same feelings and concerns as you are experiencing right now. You are probably receiving a variety of mixed messages from others with the intent of being helpful that can also add to your newfound anxiety. However, there are some helpful pointers and strategies that can allow you embrace your new duties and make your acceptance or transition into to your new position a very positive experience while preventing setbacks or frustrations.

Embrace It, Don’t Fear It
If you’re nervous you are simply feeling the normal immediate emotions that regularly accompany your new status. Many times our nervousness quickly turns into fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of not doing well or succeeding, fear of not doing as well as your predecessor, or just the fear of something new or perhaps out of your comfort zone. Our first tip to becoming comfortable with your new position is embracing it, not fearing it.

Fear leads to anxiety, frustration and often reluctancy. Fear is a negative emotion that leads to setbacks and lack of personal confidence. By embracing the new change and accepting this in the right perspective you are creating the proper, healthy foundation for you to succeed.

Understanding The Proper Perspective
The very first thing you can do that will lead to the embracing of your new position and having the proper, positive frame of mind, is having a proper and clear understanding of the committee and it’s goals and objectives, as well as your position and it’s duties and responsibilities within your committee. You must have a complete and proper understanding of what your position entails, what is expected of you and the exact duties and expectations of your position. Don’t be afraid to ask and to clarify any areas or duties that you do not completely understand. Be thorough and complete. Many times you will receive a folder of notes and information from your predecessor. Review these and take notes to obtain a better understanding. Take the time and make the effort to gain the best possible understanding of your responsibilities and your position’s importance within your committee. You must have this understanding in order to properly perform successfully.

“I’m New At This, I’ve Never Done This Before”
Do not fall into the common mentality of hiding behind the position of “well I’m new at this” or “I’ve never done this before”. These are nothing more than an unacceptable excuses. You have accepted a position and all of the duties that accompany it.  It is now your responsibility to learn and educate yourself about everything pertaining to your position. Talk to your predecessors, talk to the President or committee leader or advisor, speak to other school’s committee members in your same position, network, use industry resources such as forums and publications related to your committee and position. Simply put, it is up to you to be proactive to allow yourself to be the best you can be at your new committee position. Become knowledgeable and execute with the trust and expectation that accompanies your position. Your committee and members are turning to you for your input and advice. They are trusting you with the responsibility to present and deliver the right answers and information.

When speaking to outside vendors or contacts you can identify yourself as he new representative at your position to establish your identity and new relationship with that person, but do not use or hide behind the fact that you are new or may have never done this before. You will soon find that these professionals who serve the school marketplace know and understand that committee members regularly change, and are usually more than willing to share their knowledge and experiences, and will educate and assist you with obtaining the proper understanding in order to make the best decisions.

Dedication And Commitment
As you operate from the proper and productive perspective and gain the knowledge, understanding and confidence to embrace your new position, it is important to have the necessary level of dedication and commitment. Treat your committee position similar to a job or similar desired responsibility.  While you probably have not aspired for many years to find yourself in your new position, many successful committee members have found themselves performing at their best by treating their position similar to a job or work position.  Dedicate specific time for your committee responsibilities. Don’t try to “squeeze it in on the side in your spare time”. Make the necessary time and commitment and treat this as a rewarding position, continually do your best and be proud of your accomplishments and achievements.

By following these pointers you will achieve success in your term at your committee position, and when the day comes for you to finally step down and hand over your position to the next recipient, you can take pride in having done a great job that made a difference, while evolving the position to it’s current level allowing you to leave it in a better and more successful status.