Building a committee from the ground up is incredibly daunting. You’ll need to find enough people who know what they’re doing that the organisation will stay afloat; people who properly represent the demographics you serve; people of diverse backgrounds and diverse viewpoints so you can tackle issues from all angles; people who are keen-minded enough to communicate properly with people of different backgrounds. It’s a lot, and as chairperson you’ll need to keep this board in line and on task. Here are three broad steps to think on when building an effective committee.
Step 1: Self-Evaluation
So how do you do it? The first step is to evaluate your own skill set. What are you good at? What can you bring to this board? Where does your prior experience lay? Be honest and reasonable, and don’t let your ego take over. Next, look for holes in your resume. Maybe you come from the corporate sector but have founded a non-profit: you will definitely want a few people with extensive non-profit experience. Thinking outside the box here can save you a lot of stress down the road - for example, finding someone from the governmental sector can help you avoid any bureaucratic or legislative mishaps.
Step 2: Networking
The next step is reaching out and networking. You’ll likely have a few old friends that can help you out here - get in contact and ask around. Everybody knows somebody. If you’re in the start-up industry, there will be dozens of programs for people like you who need connections and advice. Your local university likely has one or two, and there will be a few independent ones also. If you’re lucky, you might even have some investors already - while they themselves are likely not a great fit (see B below), they definitely know people who might be. Now, it might sound callous, but this should be a cutthroat process. You need to find the people who can:
A) Get the work done,
B) Properly represent your stakeholders, and
C) Get along well with the other board members.
This will likely take a long time and a lot of meetings to get straight, but keeping communication plain, honest, and open at all times will help you win the favour of the ones who can help you the most.
Step 3: Becoming a Team
The last step is also the longest - you will need to turn your board into a real team. Sure, you can do all the classic team building retreats and activities and such but it might be easiest, at least at first, to just all go for coffee together. Getting to know each other’s histories, experiences, and temperaments is easiest in a low-pressure environment. There are also hundreds of books out there on leadership styles, networking, business communication, etc that can help you out - and remember all those contacts you used to find your board in the first place? They are a deep well of knowledge just waiting for you to tap into them. This is not a simple process, and will need constant work to reach it’s peak - but once you’re there, we guarantee you will love going in to work every day.