Are you a newly elected chapter president or advisory board supervisor for a collegiate chapter? If so, this post is for you!
Congratulations on being elected into your new position! This year promises to be full of exciting moments and will provide you plenty of opportunities for personal growth.
Now that you have had your position for a few weeks and the past officer has transitioned you into the role, do you feel ready? Are you prepared for the year ahead? Are you confident that the elected executive council officers and chairmen know what’s coming and are ready for a successful year? If you are slightly questioning whether you or the other officers are ready for the upcoming year, or just want that extra bonding experience for officers, think about planning an “officer kick-off.”
What is an officer kick-off? It’s exactly what it sounds like! It is a time for officers to come together to further review responsibilities for the upcoming year, bond, and start off the year on the right foot. From personal experience as a chapter officer and now a leadership consultant, an officer kick-off at the beginning of the semester truly gets all officers on the same page; it’s almost like an additional transition. There are no set guidelines to an officer kick-off but I’m here to share a few tips and tricks on what can be planned to make it an effective supplement to officer transitions and regional leadership conferences (RLC).
It’s important to know that chapter transitions and other training serve a different purpose than the RLCs, which are held in January and February. Your chapters’ executive council officers, social chairmen and advisory board supervisors will attend the conference at a location nearest to you. At the RLC, officers will receive some job training and leadership skills that they can take back to their chapters and use throughout the year. Many officers attend RLC expecting to learn only about the basics of their position; there are position-specific tracks and some detailed training built into the RLCs, but officers focus on much more than that. The RLC provides time to reflect as a leader in Sigma Kappa and work on chapter goals. Chapters learn a lot of valuable information at the RLC; however, it is beneficial to also have time to reflect on how your own chapter operates and what is needed from your officers.
Here’s how your chapter can have a great kick-off event:
Plan the officer kick-off to be the first or second week of school. This way officers have time to come together before sorority events and school starts to get in the way. The event should be a minimum of one hour, but can last as long as you want.
Before the kick-off, remind all officers to read their handbooks and complete their SKILLab modules. Almost all officers have SKILLab training to complete and they should have it done before the start of the semester. Have officers come to the event with questions about their position, ideas for the semester, position and chapter goals, and a positive attitude.
There are all kinds of things the officers are responsible for being knowledgeable about. The kick-off is a great time to review everything and make sure that everyone is on the same page. The chapter president and the advisory board supervisor should work together to create an outline that fits the chapter’s needs. Some ideas for this outline include:
- Resources: Refresh the officers on what is available in their resources on sigmakappa.org. Now that officers have started to get acclimated into their roles, it’s a good time to dive into some finer details of the resources offered. Show officers where they can find a contact list of volunteers and staff, sorority policies, standards of excellence information, forms, workshops, etc.
- Reports: Not all reports are submitted annually in SmarterSelect – many of the officers have tasks to complete throughout the year for the national organization. Review the collegiate officer monthly calendar so everyone knows what to mark on their calendars.
- Finances: The vice president of finance can review the expectations she has for when an officer would like to request money for an event, the process for reimbursements, the process for requesting money on the Billhighway card and also how to utilize the officer budgets.
- Tip: Utilizing Google Sheets is a great way to keep track of officer budgets and to see what each officer is spending and what they are spending money on. Each officer who has a budget can have a different tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet to easily see how much they have in their budget. This keeps all officer budgets in one place making it easier for the VPF and advisors to see spending’s.
- Standards of Excellence: Did you know that SOE changed this year? Kick-off would be a great time to go over the new changes and the responsibilities of each officer. Chapter presidents should also review with officers how they will be keeping track of what aspects of SOE they have completed throughout the year.
- Tip: Create a shared document or spreadsheet with SOE requirements so that officers can record when they have completed an aspect of their responsibility. Review progress with all officers regularly.
- Social Function Review Forms (SFRF): An SFRF is needed any time an event or activity requires a contract to be signed, any time alcohol is being served, or any time the chapter is hosting a philanthropy sporting event. Not all officers will be completing an SFRF; however, this is good to make everyone knowledgeable about what they are in case they do need to fill one out. During this time, you can show officers where to access the SFRF, review common mistakes made on SFRFs, explain the deadline for this paperwork, and review who it is submitted to.
- The GIN System: This is important to go over, especially for sisters in an officers position for the first time. Use this time to review how to send announcements, emails, and texts through GIN. If your chapter has expectations or guidelines for this type of communication be sure to review them. There are so many helpful features included in the GIN system that can be useful: points, study hours, polls and questions, files, etc. Make sure the officers have the proper access to the GIN and show them how to navigate and use it.
- Room reservations: Does your chapter often use spaces on campus to hold meetings and events? Take this time to review with officers how to reserve rooms on campus and who should make reservations.
- Committee expectations: Share with officers which sisters will be on their committees and review committee member expectations and how they can delegate to their committee members to help them achieve their goals.
- Advisors: Officers should already know who their advisors are, but this is a good time to refresh everyone on all the advisors and the positions they work with as well as their contact information.
In addition to the specifics of the officer responsibilities, it’s important to focus on goal setting. Consider having every officer share at least one goal they have for the chapter or for their position for the upcoming semester or year. Positive feedback should be encouraged to get officers excited about their position, ideas, and goals.
Finally, a great officer kick-off should include a bonding activity for the officers. This could be as simple as a team builder activity, or as exciting as taking a trip to play laser tag or go bowling together.
So there you have an officer kick-off! This is a great way to get officers excited and prepared for the upcoming year. Many chapters only use transitions as a time to learn all about their responsibilities, but having a kick-off event after winter break ensures that officers are able to process everything that they learned at transitions, look over their resources again, and start looking at ideas for the upcoming semester.
Good luck in this upcoming year! I hope everyone kicks it off on the right foot!