Guide for Committee Chairmen
The powers and responsibilities of the Chair of a Croquet England Committee are defined in two documents, which are published in the governing documents section of the website and available in print from the office:
- Standing Orders of the Board of Trustees of Croquet England (SO)
- Practice Book of Croquet England (PB)
These documents are working documents and are updated from time to time. They can be rather daunting to those not familiar with them, so this guide attempts to provide you with a route map to key areas.
The Standing Orders were adopted by the Board of Trustees on 5 April 2023. The Practice Book has been updated and was approved by the Executive in November 2023.
Committees are encouraged to meet as frequently as necessary to conduct their business, either face-to-face or by video conference (PB 8.4). They are required to meet at least once a year. (PB 8.2) Transparency in all decisions needs to be paramount and Chairs are required to ensure that all decisions are documented and that minutes are published expeditiously (PB 8.8). Appropriate publicity should be given to key matters.
Please let the Secretary know of any errors or omissions and ask for clarification if needed, if only to help your successors. Similarly, please suggest any changes you think should be made to the Standing Orders or Croquet England Practice Book.
Overall Management and Reporting Structure
The Constitution of Croquet England provides that the charity trustees shall manage the affairs of the CIO and may, for that purpose, exercise all the powers of the CIO. Clause 13 of the Constitution provides for the election of the trustees by the members of the CIO and the appointment of further charity trustees. Clause 18 provides that the charity trustees may delegate any of their powers and functions to an Executive and to Committees appointed by that Executive.
The Board of Trustees has delegated the day-to-day operation of the Organisation to the Executive, including the authority to execute financial transactions and to implement policies.
The Executive has defined the names and membership of the Standing Committees and has defined their procedures and responsibilities (PB 7.11 to 7.15; 8 and 9).
The Executive also establishes Advisory Panels and Secretariats to assist in the management and organisation of Croquet England (PB 7.3). The Standing Committees must have one or more scheduled meetings each year (PB 8.2) but the Panels normally operate and report as required.
Because Committee Chairs do not attend Executive meetings, unless invited to do so, an Executive Director liaises between them and the Executive (PB 7.2).
Committees should work closely with their responsible Executive Director. They have a degree of autonomy and are empowered to act without reference back unless the decision they intend to take contradicts established policy or procedures, involves expenditure exceeding agreed budgets or impacts another committee. (PB 8.19)
The Practice Book allows for exceptional circumstances: "Exceptionally, the Chair of a Standing Committee may take such other action within the scope of the committee as the Chair considers necessary in the interests of Croquet England. Such action should be reported to committee members and the relevant Director as soon as practicable, and certainly within seven days." (PB 7.25)
The Executive normally meets ten times a year (via a video conferencing platform) and the Secretary to the Executive or the responsible Executive Director may request that written reports are supplied in advance of an Executive meeting. Issues concerning policy or requiring endorsement should be sent to the Secretary to the Executive, for distribution to the Executive, at least 10 days before the meeting.
The Chairs of each committee are formally appointed by the Executive at its first meeting following the AGM (PB 7.4), having been proposed by the responsible Executive Director (PB 7.8).
Designated Committee Chairs, in liaison with their Executive Director, propose the members of their committee (PB 7.6), for ratification by the Executive, up to a maximum of 12 (PB 7.10) (except for the Coaching Committee, because it may include the Federation Coaching Officers and representatives of the Academies) (PB 7.13).
The office and the Secretary should be informed of any membership changes when they happen, so that the database (which feeds the committees page on the website) can be updated.
The Practice Book specifies the quorum for meetings as half the number of members currently appointed or co-opted to serve on it (PB 7.19) and gives the conditions for teleconferences and any decisions taken by the Chair after an email discussion. Each Committee must ensure that its decisions and minutes are recorded (PB 8.8).
Procedure at committee meetings is set out in the Practice Book (PB 8).
Committees are encouraged to appoint a Vice-Chair, both to deputise and assist the Chair when required, and with a view to succession (PB 7.24).
A Standing Committee may, with the approval of the responsible Executive Director, co-opt individuals of appropriate experience to serve until the following AGM (PB 7.18)
Standing Committees may establish ad hoc sub-committees or working groups to deal with specified matters (PB 7.22)
Committee chairs can serve for a maximum of 4 years in succession, save in exceptional circumstances (PB 7.7).
Each committee has a set of general responsibilities stated in the Practice Book (PB 7), as well as specific responsibilities. In addition, they can be tasked with other things by the Board of Trustees or the Executive.
All Committees have an obligation to ensure that Croquet England's commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and to safeguarding are applied to all its strategies and actions. (PB 8.1)
Among the general responsibilities is the preparation of lists of their objectives and plans (PB 8.16) and sending to the Secretary and the responsible Executive Director by 1 August each year a list of those significant decisions taken by the committee during the preceding 12 months (PB 8.11). The date the decision was taken and reference to the relevant minute should be stated.
Meetings of the Committees are summoned by the Chair, who is responsible for ensuring that an agenda is circulated to all Committee members and to the responsible Executive Director and published on the website (PB 8.6). Agendas should include specified standard items (PB 8.7)
Committees are responsible for appointing their own minutes secretaries (PB 8.5)
Communication and Record-Keeping
Committees are responsible for appointing a member of the committee to keep their website presence up-to-date and to communicate with Individual Associates and Affiliate Clubs through that, The Croquet Gazette and eNews (PB 8.18). Anything that may be regarded as sensitive or contentious should first be discussed with the relevant Executive Director (PB 8.10).
There is a Zoom presentation on Website training for Committee Chairs that features Eugene Chang and Dave Kibble and has explanations as to how to use Zoom and how to use and edit the website.
The relevant Executive Director, the Secretary and the Operations Manager should be informed of committee decisions expeditiously, and minutes and new or updated procedures should be published on the website, normally within 4 weeks of the meeting (PB 8.10).
The Practice Book requires a list of significant decisions taken during the past 12 months to be sent to the Secretary by 1 August for possible inclusion in the general list of significant decisions and its extract, which are available as a source of precedents (PB 8.11).
A number of guides have been written regarding the use of the Croquet England website. These include:
- A guide to Using the Croquet England website and How to Edit a Page. All pages have an 'owner' shown in the very bottom left of each page (in the case of this page, the Secretary), along with the year of the last significant update. Croquet England asks committees to review each page at least every 18 months. All members of your committee, when visiting a page that has not been so reviewed, will be asked to approve it as up-to-date, or mark it as needing a refresh, or to pass page responsibility to another committee.
- The Members' Documents workspace and a Help Guide to using it. Members of the Board of Trustees and the Executive may view all documents, and committee members may view all documents produced for or by their committee. The workspace includes the ability to embargo documents, and therefore keep them private to a committee for a period of time. This may be used to upload a document, notify the committee by sending a link to the document and ask for comments. Minutes of meetings are fine examples - 'agreement by lack of dissent'.
- Committees may have a Committee Home Page. This is intended to be a working page that allows you to record, share and collaborate on items, as well as keeping links to key documents together for easy reference. The page will automatically maintain a list of all website pages owned by the Committee.
A section of the Practice Book sets out the Budget Process and Expenditure Approval (PB 11).
The delegations policy identifies which groups or individuals have authority to take decisions, spend money or otherwise make financial commitments on behalf of Croquet England.
Standing Committees are asked by the Treasurer to submit their budget for the following calendar year, and forecasts for following years, each autumn.
Committee members can claim travel expenses for attending physical meetings; these are separately budgeted. Other expenses should fall within agreed budgets.
Although the office may be able to help with some of your committee's activities, its resources are limited and, except in a few specific instances, the Operations Manager does not have a specific responsibility to do so. Please consult the Chief Executive Officer before making requests for significant assistance.
Complaints and Volunteers Grievance Procedures
Croquet England's new procedures are specified in the Complaints Procedure and the Volunteers Grievance Procedure.
Checklist for Incoming Chairs
The following is offered as a checklist of actions for someone taking over as chair of a committee:
- Check that the website shows the correct membership of your committee and its meeting date(s) are as expected.
- Use the website, or your committee MS Group, to email the members of your committee to introduce yourself and inform/remind them about meeting dates.
- Try and arrange a handover with your predecessor if you have not already done so.
- Prepare an agenda for the first meeting of your committee:
- Elect a Vice-Chairman
- Appoint a web/Gazette communicator
- Appoint a minutes secretary.
- Decide objectives for the year and review your strategy document
- Review expenditure for the year just ending and agree a proposed budget for the following year. The Treasurer may ask you for future spending forecasts.
- Decide metrics by which the state of the activities for which your committee is responsible can be judged. Dave Kibble wrote a brief paper discussing this and giving some possible examples.
- Consider whether you need to allocate specific tasks to members of the committee or co-opt any additional members to get what you want done.
- Consider whether any of your plans for the forthcoming season affect the Fixtures Calendar and, if so, tell the Operations Manager in the office in good time. It is prepared in November/December.