The role and achievements of SABPP Committees: It is all about leadership, talent and teamwork by Marius Meyer

How Certain are You about Uncertainty? by Marius Meyer
June 12, 2018
Good committees are active by Marius Meyer
June 13, 2018

In accordance with the Non-profit Organisations Act, a non-profit organisation (NPO) must table an annual report at an Annual General Meeting held for its members.  As a NPO responsible for quality assurance and the HR profession, the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) is such an organisation. However, a significant proportion of the work of NPOs is done by volunteers as part of the committees or projects of the organisation. Thus, it can be said that together with its management and staff, committees are at the centre of the activities of a NPO. However, not all committees are always effective and I therefore want to discuss the effectiveness of committees in this article.

Someone once said: “An effective committee consists of three people of whom two are absent”.  In other words, if you want to ensure a task is executed successfully, rather give it to an individual. A similar cynical view is that if you want to fail in executing a task, give it to a committee! While there may be some truth in these negative perspectives about the role and impact of committees, the reality is that there is value in committees than these negative perspectives allude to.

Committees solve difficult problems that cannot be solved by an individual or in our case one company, a specialist/expert, etc; leveraging contributions from different people, often representing different departments, stakeholders and interest groups.  Positive outcomes from effective committees are rich, diverse, consultative and have impact.

Committees encourage learning.  When you are part of a committee and are actively engaged, you always learn, you will research and find out more about your area of impact and you will also learn from the other committee members.  This is the reason why SABPP allocates two seats per committee to inexperienced members. While senior committee members have gained solid experience over many years, these skills should also be transferred to younger members who can grow and develop as professionals. The reality is that we all started our careers without any experience, but we managed to learn and grow from senior members of our professional community.


Your communication skills and teamwork improve when you are part of a committee.  In essence, committee work is about generating and consolidating ideas needed to culminate in effective projects.   Additionally, an effective committee can play an important role in ensuring good governance, joint decision-making, growth and sustainability.

Jake van der Wilden, a member of the SABPP Professional Registration Committee says that committee success also depends on listening skills.  Members must listen to one another and the stakeholders they are serving.  SABPP Chairperson, Siphiwe Moyo warns against the current practice of a new generation simply discarding the values, wisdom and achievements of the previous generation. He reminds us of the importance of building on past successes and retaining institutional memory.  While new ideas and innovation are always welcome in a committee, the reality is that you go backwards if you discard or undo the good work of your predecessors.

When meeting with Lynda Smith from the Refirement Network this week, I also realised how important it is to tap into the wisdom and insights of our older generation.  Imagine the collective wisdom of the 50 plus members of our society. All of them have three decades of solid work experience and they therefore possess a rich skills base that can be transferred to the younger generation as our future leaders and professionals climbing the corporate ladder and entrepreneurial businesses.

Having worked as part of committees for a very long time, and also being dependent on the contributions and outputs of committees in most aspects of our work as a professional body working closely with business, government institutions and other NPOs, I reflected on the successes and failures of committees. The key question is why some committees are more effective than others, and essentially three key factors emerged:

Leadership, talent and teamwork.  Great committees achieving great work have great leaders. They tap into the talent of the committee members and the vast pool of talent outside the committee. Ultimately, they ensure good teamwork among committee members when they plan the way forward with projects after key decisions have been taken.

Next week on the 21th June, the SABPP Board will present its Annual Report of 2017 to the HR community.  The annual report will outline the work of all the committees, including its successes and challenges. Interestingly, and without exception, the most successful committees have achieved the greatest successes because of the incredible leadership by its chairpersons. The top five SABPP committees are as follows:

  1. Professional Registration:Under the leadership of Mochabo Moroene, this committee has been in existence for 35 years, and managed to register 950 new HR professionals last year, and they managed to do so using the new online professional registration system.
  2. HR Governance: Chaired by retired HR Executive, Elizabeth Dhlamini-Kumalo, the committee developed the world’s first HR Governance Framework to be used by HR Directors in South Africa.  The committee is also responsible for approving HR standards developed by SABPP.
  3. Quality Assurance: In existence for 15 years, this committee chaired by Bebe Oyegun-Adeoye has accredited several learning providers and therefore ensures that learners get a quality education and legitimate certification in the field of HR Management.
  4. Learning and Development: This committee is chaired by Dustin Hogg and managed to adjudicate awards for the Annual Skills Summit. They also planned and delivered their first Annual L&D Conference which took place at the MTN Innovation Centre in Johannesburg.
  5. Eastern Cape: SABPP has nine provincial committees to champion the HR profession in the provinces.  The most active committees achieve the best results, and while the Kwazulu-Natal and Western Cape committees achieved great successes, when it comes to the highest number of newly registered HR professionals, the Eastern Cape committee under the leadership of the SABPP Provincial Chairperson, Nandi Sishuba performed the best of all provinces outside Gauteng.

In the light of the above examples of high performance committees, it is evident that the three factors of leadership, talent and teamwork contributed significantly to their success. The full results of their work will be shared at the SABPP Annual General Meeting in Pretoria on 21 June 2018.

In conclusion, good committees are active teams of committed people driving clear outputs. The role of the chairperson as leader is key in steering the committee in the right direction and to focus discussions on adding value to the organisation and its stakeholders. However, having the right talent at the table is a key factor in driving sustainable outcomes. Ultimately, effective committee work is about good teamwork, but it is the role of the chairperson to foster a climate of good teamwork in achieving the goals of the committee.  Managing an effective meeting, and then steering the committee towards agreed actions is a unique skill that all good committee chairpersons have mastered. Moreover, staying in touch between meetings to keep the committee members engaged and focused is key in ensuring momentum and follow-through on decisions taken, in particular regarding the execution of key actions.  The success of effective committees is all about good leadership, talent and teamwork.

I want to thank all SABPP committees for their great work in taking the HR profession forward. Ultimately, as professionals, we need to realise that our profession is as strong as our committees. Let us continue to build strong committees, drive sound governance and deliver effective projects advancing the HR profession in the process.

Marius Meyer is CEO of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP).