The Z guide to coming off a committee

I have done it, quite a few times.  It has happened, once in a while, that someone resigns abruptly, which can leave the group in a bit of a pickle, although sometimes personal circumstances make this understandable, sometimes less so.  There was one time, someone on a committee the Sage was on did almost everything.  Treasurer, secretary, most of the work, although no one had expected her to, she was determined.  The Sage was chairman.  I warned him, don’t rely on her.  It’s too much, it’s “too hot not to cool down.” No one can keep that going for long, and because of the person she is, she won’t ask for help or acknowledge any problem, she’ll just quit.  And so she did.

I always start planning my exit strategy in good time before I resign.  It usually takes at least two years.  My aim is not to be missed at all, not to leave anyone in the lurch (I still feel the responsibility to the organisation, after all) and to help a successor to feel confident.  Normally, I make a list of weekly, monthly and occasional events and how far in advance to plan them.  No one has ever done as much for me, I jolly well wish they had.  I involve the person who is to take over, so that it’s not all new for them – I identify my successor as early as possible, of course, though not in secret.  If it’s all discussed reasonably, then people accept the decision.  Even if they’re horrified at the start, the idea soon gets absorbed into the brain.

It’s different, being a volunteer in a position of responsibility to having a similar paid job.  There, the objective is usually to be indispensable, to keep your place on the slippery pole, and if you resign then the odds are that you will have nothing to do with your successor.  The difficult part about being a volunteer is that you have more of a moral responsibility – if you aren’t enjoying your job, you aren’t earning enough, you want more or less to do, you look for a new one and hand in your notice.  However inconvenient for your boss, you’ve every right.  But when things in a society, school or voluntary organisation are going pear-shaped, you are obliged to stay and help put it right.

The other time you can’t leave is when there are so few helpers that it really would be a problem for the ones that remain.  Or if you have a skill that no one else there has.  That’s why a treasurer can get landed with the job for a long time.  Or an organist.

PS – No sign of the baby yet.  He’s still a very large bump.  Can’t be long now though, surely!

6 comments on “The Z guide to coming off a committee

  1. Blue Witch

    Tell Weeza to keep her legs crossed, it’s awful for small children to share birthdays with others in the close family circle!

    There doesn’t seem to be a happy medium anymore between people who are under-involved in their local communities (eg the rioters and looters of last week) and those who have a propensity to be over-involved (and I don’t mean this as a criticism; I can understand only too well why it happens, particularly now I look in from the knowledgeable outside, having resigned from almost everything I was doing).

  2. Z

    Weeza and Al’s birthdays are only two days apart – I admit, we tended to do a joint party. On the occasions we did give them a joint present it was a big one that they would share anyway, such as Scalextric, normally we kept their presents separate.

    I agree, it would be easy to be over-involved. I spread myself between the village, the next village, the local town and Norwich, limited activities in each. If I stopped all of them, I’m not sure what I would do with my time – I’m not really a hobby person.


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