3 tips for setting the right tone for the New Year

The New Year is so often described as the creation of something fresh. A new start and a time for goal-setting, like all of those resolutions we set (and sometimes fail to keep). Instead of those you let go after you start a fresh calendar, focus on positive goals you can achieve. An organized, positive and successful year for your sorority is attainable, especially when you start off the right way.

For many chapters, 2018 will also bring a freshly-transitioned executive board at the same time your Panhellenic leadership are starting new terms. With these leadership transitions also comes opportunities to re-set and set a new tone and setting the right tone is key.

Here are a few tips for setting the right tone for your chapter in the New Year.

1. Establish clear (and realistic) expectations

From the chapter president to members of your executive board, from VPs to committee members and the chapter leadership to members – in any organization and relationship establishing clear expectations helps get things off to the right start. It helps us avoid confusion, frustration and disappointment later. We can all make clear what our expectations are to ourselves and set some realistic goals for everything from managing our time to the goals and tasks we want to accomplish. This is also true of your membership, your leadership position and your academic path.

Being realistic about any expectations is crucial. As a chapter president, it might be too difficult to have weekly check-in meetings with each member of your executive board, but setting aside an hour each week for an open door sort of “office hours” time is easy to fit into any schedule. Expecting your members to increase their GPA so much that you rise from the middle to the top of the Panhellenic grade averages will set you up for failure. However, challenging your members to raise the average GPA for your chapter by a more attainable percentage and maintain it for 2 quarters is feasible. Bonus if you also provide incentives and rewards!.

2.  Leverage tools available

There are so many communication tools available to help chapters run like finely-tuned machines. Explore what is available on MCR that will work for your chapter. Have you checked out the “Misc” tab? Leverage the calendar, files and messages. Do your chapter members like to utilize Facebook? Is your philanthropy team in need of a project management tool? Many are free online and students also have access to free software downloads through their institution.

For chapter communications, there are tools that help to keep your social media posts going even when your public relations officer is cramming for a mid-term. Social media posts for various platforms can be written ahead and scheduled (and photos uploaded). There are free services that offer easy-to-use templates for sending newsletters and the ability to keep different lists so you can send a parent and alumnae newsletter to specific audiences.

3. Organization is key

Make planning a priority as the New Year begins. Before classes really get difficult and programming starts to cram up schedules, devote time to getting organized and creating a basic calendar. Take the time to learn how to utilize the tools you’re going to use and set-up your organizational system before you get too busy

Chapters should have a calendar of “Big Rocks” events and then fill more programming as it is scheduled. A few examples of these big rocks: pre-recruitment and recruitment events, initiation and other ritual events, philanthropy events, required speakers and programming from your Headquarters and academic institution, chapter meetings and chapter alternatives. MCR shows your chapter calendar and allows members to submit excuses for mandatory events and tallies point totals for those chapters with points systems.

Above everything else, the best thing you can do to set the right tone for the New Year – stay positive!

Author: Amanda Rich
Co-Chapter Advisor
Rho Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega (Univ. of Washington)