By Scott Smith (Central Arkansas)
As members return to campus to begin the fall semester chapters should begin turning attention to their to-do lists. Rosters need to be updated, the first round of fall billings from the General Fraternity will soon be due, candidate classes are being signed, and the chapter’s fall schedule is coming together. A primary focus for all chapters during the month of September should be planning for the remainder of the current academic year.
- What do we want the chapter to look like at the end of this academic year (by April 30)?
- How many men will we have?
- What awards will we win?
- What signature events will we hold?
- What kind of experiences should be provided for members?
- How will the chapter impact the local, campus, and Greek community?
- Where will our pursuit of excellence take us this year?
From Ratings to Strategy
Now that school is back in session, each chapter should have received its Pursuit of Excellence Program (PEP) ratings and feedback. But what’s next? The ratings and feedback each chapter received are not the end but, rather, the beginning of the annual Pursuit of Excellence process. Perhaps the most important exercise for any organization – from fraternity chapter to Fortune 500 Company – is developing a vision and then setting out a deliberate plan for becoming that organization.
The start of school is an ideal time to have an intentional conversation with the chapter membership and either re-committing to the existing plan or charting a new course – where are we going and how are we going to get there? The PEP ratings from last academic year give the chapter an objective look at where they currently stand but it is still up to the chapter to determine where it is going.
A key tool for answering these questions can be found within the Pursuit of Excellence Program, in the form of the Strategy Session. This chapter workshop provides a great start to the year by leading the chapter through a review of the Pursuit of Excellence Program, their performance from last year, and guided group conversations for setting new goals for this year.
By the end of September, each chapter should use their ratings and feedback from the previous year to plan for the upcoming year. The PEP Strategy Session provides a great opportunity to engage chapter members in the strategy and problem solving process to create direction for the chapter’s continued improvement.
Getting to Acceptable
For chapters that have less than acceptable ratings in any area, the Strategy Session is a great tool to reach minimum standards. In fact, conducting the Strategy Session and developing plans for improvement is required for those chapters that fail to meet acceptable or better ratings. The Chapter Improvement Plan Guidelines provide details on what to include in an improvement plan, a review of the Fraternity’s minimum standards (acceptable criteria), and resources directed at helping the chapter improve its future operations. Using this resource and conducting the Strategy Session as a chapter or with each of the officers and committee chairman at the start of the school year is the best way to start in a new direction.
Goal Setting Resources
The Strategy Session will lead your chapter through a review of its performance and achievements from the previous year and direct your membership in the creation of goals and a strategic plan for the upcoming year. For chapters looking to go beyond basic visioning and goal setting, additional goal setting and strategic planning resources can also be found in All Chapter LEAD Module B.
The Evaluation Guidelines and updated Standards and Criteria for Excellence are other great resources for helping your chapter determine any gaps between their current reality and vision for the future.
The start of school is an ideal time to have an intentional conversation with the chapter membership and either re-committing to the existing plan or charting a new course – where are we going and how are we going to get there?
Take this opportunity to make the Pursuit of Excellence Program the foundation of your chapter’s operations, planning, and achievement. Get involved by helping to facilitate the chapter’s strategy session, reviewing the Standards and Criteria for Excellence (including available resources for achieving excellence), and setting your chapter on its path to excellence!