Tips for Workgroup Chairs - SCHSAC - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Tips for SCHSAC Workgroup Chairs

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Work and review group members are appointed by the Executive Committee based on their expertise and interest, and to ensure representation from all geographic areas of the state. Workgroups sometimes have MDH staff and other appropriate organizational representatives as members (e.g., Conference Planning, Partnership, and Collaboration Workgroups). In addition, workgroups often invite experts on the subject to participate in workgroup discussions. Workgroups frequently address controversial and complex issues.

Each workgroup chair determines how they would like to manage the group’s discussion. In doing so, they must balance the need to hear from all members with the value of getting input from guests, resource persons, and MDH staff (all SCHSAC and workgroup meetings are open to the public). SCHSAC workgroup chairs have often made efforts to be inclusive of guests by inviting them to sit at the table and participate in the workgroup discussions. At times this has caused confusion regarding the role of members versus guests.

The following suggestions may be helpful in allowing members to fully share their expertise and opinions while respectfully considering the opinions and expertise of guests.

Tips for Workgroup Chairs

Workgroup chairs should determine “norms” for how they intend to manage the group at the beginning of the workgroup process.

When developing these norms, workgroup chairs should consider:

  • How will the group most effectively accomplish its charge?
  • What structure will best allow for information to be provided to and discussed by members?
  • In what way will guests’ input be solicited?
  • What structure will allow guests the opportunity to share information and opinions while still allowing for full workgroup discussion?

Possible workgroup norms include:

  • All of those attending may sit at the table as room permits (priority to workgroup members and staff) OR
  • Only workgroup members and staff should sit at the table.
  • All attendees may participate freely in the discussion OR Guests should wait until the chair solicits their comments.

These group norms for members and guests should be made clear (as ground rules) at the beginning of the workgroup process.

The chair should discuss with the workgroup staff what role the staff should play in the workgroup (both participation and group management).

During the workgroup meetings, the chair should determine if any deviations from the norms are needed and explicitly share these with staff and members.

Operating Procedures of the SCHSAC will be followed (e.g., only members are allowed to vote, a quorum must be present, etc.).