The Hidden Impact of Key Person Risk Within the Council Meeting Process
It’s the one process in council that must happen, and for some governance leaders, it’s considered the most important yet inefficient process.
The council meeting is complex, and with 67%* of councils using four or more systems to manage the process, it can be difficult for staff to create and execute with speed and accuracy.
Our latest Insights Report, The Unrealised Potential of Council Meetings, highlighted the common challenges and risks associated with the council meeting. One insight that we uncovered was Key Person Risk – because one person managing the process is a disaster waiting to happen.
Here’s an overview of some of the findings and tips you can put in place to mitigate risk.
Key Person Risk – What’s the Impact?
With the inherent complexity of the meeting process from end to end, there’s bound to be some risk around key people. In many councils, a single person is responsible for executing the meeting process from end to end – but what happens when that person becomes sick or has to take leave?
When councils have no redundancy, key person risk emerges. The meeting process is inherently complex with multiple stakeholders, parallel workflows, and systems to be coordinated. The greater the complexity of the process, the greater the risk and the more challenging it is to train people to create sufficient redundancy.
1 in 2 councils rely on a single person to manage the process.
Over half of all councils rely on a single person to manage the meeting process, with many admitting that key staff can’t take leave at certain times (25%) and staff must work overtime to make the meeting happen (21%).
For those meeting administrators who can get approved leave, many councils mentioned the responsible person receives numerous texts and phone calls with questions and requests for assistance.
In some circumstances, up to 12 people can be pulled in to assist team members to ensure the meeting goes ahead as planned. This impact can be huge in terms of quality and lost time. Think about where that time could be better spent by staff and how it could potentially slow council progress when things get pushed off the agenda.
70% of councils said last-minute changes and formatting issues cause stress and delays.
Even for councils with systems in place, formatting challenges were named a top concern. These inefficiencies and frustrations make it difficult to train and unappealing to learn the meeting process, which makes creating redundancy difficult.
Many respondents also noted their frustration with chasing report writers who don’t respect deadlines, which then creates last-minute pressure to solve more finicky formatting issues, adding stress to an already high-pressure situation.
Along with this, many councils struggle to attract and retain staff in governance roles – this doesn’t help the situation. With duplicated tasks and effort, many employees do what is required to make the meeting happen without raising any issues or concerns. It’s this hidden risk that can result in frustration and disengagement.
How can you alleviate the stress and mitigate Key Person Risk?
It’s important to look beyond the agenda and business paper preparation and consider the whole council meeting process, end-to-end. Understanding the process can help to uncover where the challenges lie and who is being impacted.
Consider identifying all key stakeholders and the outcomes important to them so you can ensure systems will be appealing to use. When considering systems, look at how they reduce complexity across the whole process for all relevant stakeholders and administrators.
Remember, the more streamlined the process is, the easier it is to train people in this role to ensure councils have sufficient redundancy.
Learn more about how Resolve Meeting Management can help streamline your Council Meeting process here.