As a chapter leader, you know how valuable the officer experience is for gaining leadership skills. But you also know how stressful the election process can be. In your officer position, you have the ability to implement strategies that make the process easier and more transparent for potential candidates.
In our Chapter Leader Playbook series, we discuss simple strategies to simplify complicated processes, like officer elections, that you oversee as a chapter leader.
All elections start with the bylaws. Every organization determines their own election timelines, procedures and rules. You should always consult your organization’s bylaws when planning your elections. Before the election process begins, all of your current officers should understand what their responsibilities are in facilitating the elections so that there is no confusion or ambiguity.
It’s essential to have a fair and transparent process for all potential candidates. Running an organized election will build trust in the current and future chapter officers. Below are areas to focus on that could have a tangible impact on your chapter’s election process:
AREAS OF FOCUS FOR SMOOTH OFFICER ELECTIONS
- Review your bylaws: It’s worth repeating, your first step is ensuring your chapter is adhering to your organization’s bylaws. Read and review the processes that National has outlined to make sure you are getting it right. Be sure you are familiar with the timelines, application process, and election procedures.
- Re-examine role descriptions: Review officer role descriptions to ensure they are updated and encompassing of all role requirements. Potential chapter leaders should understand the time commitment and challenges of the role before they apply for the position.
- Market the positions: Send an email to your chapter with all of the available positions and clear instructions for those looking to apply. The email should also communicate the personal and professional benefits of the leadership role. You can also promote the positions in your chapter discussion groups to generate interest.
- Communicate with candidates: Keep your candidate pool in the loop throughout the election process. Clearly outline the steps in the application, interview, and election process. Communicate important policies like role prerequisites, speech time limits, election etiquette, etc.
PRIORITIZE OFFICER TRANSITION
Along with preparing for and running the election, it’s beneficial to implement steps for a smooth post-election transition. Your extra work in strengthening the transition experience will have a direct impact on the new officer team’s success.
For those that were not selected for leadership positions, thank them for their time and enthusiasm. You can also encourage them to get involved with available committee opportunities in the future to gain leadership experience.
For those there were selected, congratulate them on a job well done and let them know the steps involved in officer transition. Your transition plans should prepare new officers to seamlessly take office and hit the ground running. If they aren’t already, consider adding the three following steps to your transition process:
- Hold group transition meetings: Meeting with the outgoing officer they are replacing is important, but equally important is understanding the officer team dynamics. Facilitate group meetings for incoming and outgoing officer teams to meet and gain a better understanding of how the team should work as a group.
- Provide resources and tools: Create an outgoing officer checklist that includes the completion of all open tasks and organization of all documentation for the new officer. Prepare a new officer manual that compiles important contacts, documents, and information on chapter activities or events.
- Update contact information: Consider if there is any contact information that needs to be updated on your chapter website, with campus leaders, or elsewhere.
By leveraging new ideas, you can run a hassle-free election and ensure that all of your leadership positions are filled with enthusiastic new officers. Chapter leaders have a direct impact on your organization’s brand and reputation. In the next post in our Chapter Leader Playbook, we will dive into building your brand with marketing essentials.