As a fresh crop of society/sports team presidents arrive back at campus with a new level of responsibility we’ve got advice from Cheyenne, previous president of Aston Women in Business. They won society of the year at their SU awards, and now (in part due to her experience with AWiB) she is off to start a graduate scheme next week. What she doesn’t know about running a society isn’t worth knowing.
This is the first of a three part series designed to help new presidents, treasurers and execs of societies find their feet and avoid common errors. Follow our social handles to see the next instalments!
1. CELEBRATE YOUR WIN!
So congrats, you’ve been elected President of your society or club. Honestly, well done, you are set for a whirlwind adventure! No matter what year you are in at university, handling this position is a toughie alongside studies, and just general life.
A bit of time has perhaps passed, and it’s just about sunk in, where you’ve just recovered from the hangovers of celebrating. And the dreaded so now what… begins.
I’ve been there and done that, got the t-shirt (yes, I do have a t-shirt with title President), and the grad job perhaps because of the position. Here’s my advice and rough checklist to help you get on your way to having a triumphant year.
2. GET TO KNOW YOUR TEAM
You may find yourself now working with peers you’ve never seen around campus. Odds are they won’t all be in your year either – meaning they may have not have your balls/confidence/ knowledge/experience, so be gentle with your demands.
Hold an intro meeting in summer so you can all touch base, or if like me, your team were off galavanting in different time zones, try and arrange a Skype call.
Ask your team members, what do they want to achieve from this? What do they want to learn and do? You can form a two-way relationship, so you can both benefit from the gains.
Decide what kind of a leader you want to be – do you want to be taken seriously, or do you want your team to have a laugh around you and everyone chip in to help with your job role too? It’s important to lay out everyone’s responsibilities so no one steps on any toes.
After your introductory meeting, try and put some agendas and deadlines in order so you can get the ball rolling, ready for Freshers Fair – i.e. are you going to keep the same logo and colour scheme, do you need to order any merchandise?
3. COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Yes… that famous saying really is true! In this era, we have so many tools and channels to communicate- WhatsApp, social media, text messages, Skype… I’d recommend asking your team, what they like to use for communicating. I personally used a mixture of two groups – one on WhatsApp and one on Facebook.
I had a WhatsApp group for committee members. Its purpose was to discuss quick things, and opinions. My team and I also had a closed FB group, we would run polls, upload files, upload checklists and agendas, and tag people in with the tasks they needed to do, and would use WhatsApp to remind and say, “Guys the new checklist is on Facebook, can you all please have a look?”
As a society, we also had a WhatsApp for our members, so they can talk too. It may be a case of trial and error for you and your team, as everyone has different preferences. I would however suggest using more than one method.
4. KEEP ON THE SAME PAGE
From the word ‘go’, to lay out everyone’s responsibilities and job roles. It may be inevitable with different schedules that some members may have to drop certain tasks throughout the year, and others pick them up. As a President, this is your time to shine, to spot this before it gets too late! Have regular chats with your members and ask them how they’re getting on. If you see someone struggling, ask them if they’d like help!
It can be a hard-juggling act, as you don’t want to sound like a nagging mum, but you have to always paint the bigger picture – you are a team, not a one-man show!
Everyone needs to work together.
Luckily, I didn’t have to fire anyone, but I can only advise to emphasise honesty, so things can run smoothly if you do have a hiccup.