Updated: May 17
What percentage of your chapter do you think is engaged?
Like really engaged ~ to the point that they feel responsible for the success or failure of your chapter? I bet most of us feel like that percentage is lower than we wish it was.
We're exploring what might be keeping your chapter from fully engaging and how to motivate members to be a part of growing your chapter!
Reflecting on my leadership experience in college, I'm reminded of how much I wanted to run the show. I wanted to be the gal in the know, busy getting things done, and able to have all the answers. Even as a consultant, I remember working on projects with members and wanting to take on a task more than supervising the leaders' execution of it. In both roles, I desired to come off as if I was working the hardest, probably out of fear of appearing to not doing enough for something I loved. I also know that my excitement in seeing a vision fulfilled made me want to play a critical role in accomplishing it ~ even at the cost of not including others in the process. every member matters
Can you relate to that?
Have you ever had such a vivid idea or detailed plan for how something should be done that you just went for it yourself without consulting others? Maybe you've been in a group project before where you ended up carrying the majority of the weight or maybe you just prefer relying on yourself! I have worked with a lot of leaders (and have been that leader too!) who are so self-sufficient or have been let down by others in the past that they have consequently become micromanagers.
As micromanagers, it's hard for us to receive feedback constructively and not take it personally because we are so intertwined with the plan! We can get narrow-minded about alternatives when we're the sole planner.
I think sometimes we get so caught up in doing the most for the organizations and people we love that we forget to include our members in our journey to success!
While doing it ourselves often results in the task being accomplished, we lose the needed opportunity to cultivate a wider sense of member ownership! Consider the group project example again. Have you ever been the member unfamiliar with the content and relying on others for guidance? I think that's the role a lot of our members play! They see our leaders knowing it all and not seeming to need members' help so they take a backseat in chapter operations, confident that officers will take care of it!
I believe we take ownership and contribute to the things in our lives that need it! If our members don't feel that their contributions are needed, why would they overextend themselves to support your chapter?
I see lacking delegation being the primary source of member disengagement, followed closely by lacking transparency which is resolved when leaders share the needs of the chapter with their members!!
If you're a leader, I want you to think about what tasks are your responsibility from week to week. Consider how effective you are at completing those items and how quickly they are accomplished.
Now I want you to think about the people who are at your disposal to support you in your role. I see committee systems in our chapters being widely underutilized!! How could you delegate meaningful tasks to your committee members?
What can you delegate to a sister to help her see that her contributions matter and take ownership of her chapter?
I am confident that you will empower them and remind them of the value they bring to the chapter by sharing the burden of your leadership with them!
Now I know chapter operations are a little different right now! Your officers and members are spread out all over the country and general responsibilities have surely shifted. I want to challenge you though that this does not mean you can't entrust your members with the responsibility of fulfilling the purpose of your organization even now! You as a leader do not need to carry the weight of sisterhood and connection alone at this time.
Here are some ways we think you could empower your members to feel valuable to the chapter at this time:
Instagram Takeovers - Have your social media or marketing chairmen entrust a member or two to share their quarantine life on the chapter's Instagram every week! This could be a great way for members to keep up with each other and for women besides the officer in charge to create fun, engaging content!
Sunshine Sisterhood Committee - Identify a small group of sisters (maybe positive, well-liked upperclassmen who are not leaders) to check in on members through a sweet text message or phone call! Divide the chapter up into as many groups as you have Sunshine Sisterhood Committee members. Do not tell the rest of the chapter this committee has been created so the women feel seen & loved and not that it was these women's responsibility to check in on them. These quick touch points will make the committee members feel valuable for secretly being able to share some love while furthering sisterhood and retention!
Senior Recognition - What were the most special events or ceremonies that your chapter held to recognize seniors before graduation? How could you incorporate those into the virtual sisterhood experience that you are creating for your chapter now? Put out a Google form for women to sign up to recognize a senior for their involvement and contributions to the chapter either in a virtual meeting or write a post on a shared communication platform (OmegaOne, Facebook, GroupMe).
Committees or Team Brainstorming - Reach out to your committee or team members about fall events! Set up a Zoom call to hear their thoughts about what the chapter needs now more than ever and how to incorporate it into events that women look forward to every fall!