When you join a fraternity or sorority--particularly when you do it for the right reasons and with the right intentions--it’s a step toward personal growth. Congrats! You’re a bigger person now. Mark another notch on the door frame. The thing about growth is, though, when you’re experiencing it, you may not even realize just how much you’ll grow until you look back at your choices much later. That’s why it’s important to invest in yourself and those around you as often as possible. So let’s take a look at the steps you’ve taken so far to fulfill this:
- You graduated high school, possibly while participating in a sport or academic extracurricular or two, and received good enough grades to get accepted to college.
- You may or may not have a scholarship, you may or may not be working the midnight grind to get you through tuition, or you may be incurring thousands in student debt (welcome to the club!). It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re earning your degree to better your life.
- Next, you joined a Greek organization. You’re networking, participating in community projects and philanthropies, making lifelong brothers and sisters and working toward shared goals. You wear your letters proudly because you believe in what you stand for.
So, what’s next? We’re glad you asked! The next step may very well be to run for an officer position within your chapter. However, “peaceful” transitions of power are hardly ever without their difficulties, whether you’re running for United States senator or social chair. That’s why OmegaFi is happy to guide you through this process with some Officer Transition Common Mishaps.
Mishap #1: A Silent Transition of Power
This mistake made by transitioning chapter officers is rightly front and center in our list. Remember how we mentioned growth above? Well, how do you expect to grow if you don’t engage and learn from others who have come before you? Our point is: Don’t try to do this all on your own, or chances you’ll fail are high.
You need to really sit down and have at least one lengthy meeting with the outgoing brother or sister who held your chair. Though realistically, it’s much more of a long-term training process than a single meeting. You might possibly talk to others who’ve held the position as well, and also your chapter president or alumni who’ve “been there, done that” for advice.
Brush up on your bylaws and parameters that’ve been set out to guide you. Also, to avoid this mishap, remember that growth is an ongoing process. You may face snags you don’t know how to fix down the line. You’re constantly bettering yourself and learning. It’s a training experience, like any other new skill or job. Check in with brothers or sisters who can help. And for the record, some of us at OmegaFi have been through this process and are happy to lend a few words of advice.
Mishap #2: An Inflexible Transition of Power
It’s all well and good to listen to others who’ve come before, but what use is that if you don’t actually implement their advice? We’re not saying every suggestion will be a good one. But a good new officer will try to discern what past officers did right and what they did wrong, hear them out, and then learn how to adapt and do better. In other words, don’t be a tyrannical dictator. Be flexible (but not too flexible), expect compromise, humble yourself to the position and its value to your chapter, and always place the goals of the chapter above your own.
Let’s take an example. You’ve just been elected recruitment chair. You’ve envisioned this massive summer recruitment event, with tee-shirt cannons and a bounce house and a giant Slip ‘N Slide with your chapter letters blown up and printed on it. You want the best of the best of everything to make recruitment a success, and you won’t settle for less. You refuse to even look at the budget despite the treasurer’s pleading. Recruitment will be epic this year.
So why is this a mishap? For one, being stubborn and selfish is the opposite of what’s going to help your chapter flourish, epic recruitment or no. Does your chapter need to focus as much money on recruitment as, say, a big philanthropic event that’s been in the works for semesters?
How about socials and formals? Is the budget tight on national dues and house fees? Did dues come up short of the chapter’s goals? Would some of that money be better utilized by placing it in savings? You’d know all this if you looked at the budget, listened to your sisters or brothers, and adjusted your needs accordingly. Get creative if need be. Use social media to bolster your recruitment efforts. You can still have an awesome recruitment, no mishaps to be found.
Mishap #3: A Dishonest Transition of Power
We talked a lot about how to transition as a new officer and how to avoid mishaps. But what if you’re making the biggest mishap of all--what if you aren’t ready to become an officer? Think about it. How much school work do you have?
Are you taking a lot of credit hours that are “weed out” classes for your major? Are you breaking your back with all-nighter after all-nighter? Are you working constantly to pay the bills? When the heck are you sleeping? Are you new to your chapter in general, and don’t have a good handle on how chapter business is handled week to week? It’s okay not to bite off too much too soon.
Be honest with yourself. Hand the baton to someone else, take the time to really get to know your chapter, how it ticks, the people in it. Target a future position early and get to know the ins and outs before you actually run.
These are just a few of what we here at OmegaFi consider Officer Transition Common Mishaps, and how to avoid them. Let’s hear from all the current and former officers out there! What’s missing from the list? Share your wisdom in the comments below.