Thursday, April 9, 2015

Six ways to create a stronger relationship with your headquarters staff

By Ryan Miller, Oklahoma State University

The inter/national headquarters for our organizations are some of the most important resources in fraternity and sorority life. Each inter/national office is structured differently and becoming familiar with how your organization is structured will help your chapter succeed. Of all staff members, you might be most familiar with the traveling consultants. You know… the ones who visit your chapter once a semester/quarter or year.

Each fraternity and sorority has different requirements to become a traveling consultant. While some hire recent graduates, others require their traveling staff to have a master’s degree and/or experience working in higher education. No matter how your fraternity or sorority sets up its traveling consultants, creating strong, positive relationships with these men and women is vital to the success of your chapter.   

Creating these strong relationships, however, can be difficult simply because of logistics—you might not see the consultants very often and it’s often not the same consultant who visits your chapter each time. That being said, here are some suggestions that will aid in helping you create strong relationships with these very important people:
  1. Take advantage of the time you have with your organization’s traveling staff when they visit. While they do have a lot get done during the visit, they spend a lot of time alone. Ultimately, they are still your brothers and sisters and want to experience that brotherhood or sisterhood outside of meetings with chapter officers and university staff. Introduce these representatives to your chapter and include them in activities such as sightseeing or meals. They will appreciate it!
  2. Invite staff members to big-ticket events such as homecoming or your alumni weekend.  Ask in advance for their travel schedule so you can plan to include them in events you’re proud of. Or, let them know when university activities are and maybe they can fit it in to their schedules.
  3. Encourage your members to apply for volunteer opportunities, internships, or full-time jobs with your inter/national office. Having chapter members with experiences working directly for your inter/national office provides a new perspective and will help you better understand the organization as a whole. Being on headquarters staff is hard work!
  4. Set up a monthly call with your traveling consultant or whoever works directly with your chapter on behalf of your inter/national office. I’m sure you exchange emails with him or her fairly often, but the personal touch of a phone call can help create a better relationship. 
  5. Meet deadlines and turn in your reports on time. Turning in report and other documents to your inter/national office on time not only helps staff review them on schedule, but it makes your chapter look good. Turning in reports late, or possible not at all, puts staff behind in their daily operations.
  6. Ask traveling consultants about their experiences. What was it like to be a member at their chapter? What’s it like to be a consultant? What will they do afterward? You can create a stronger relationship if you understand where they’re coming from.
For some of us, creating a positive relationship with our headquarters staff might seem a little daunting at first. However, remember that these staff members are here to help us succeed. The things you can learn from them might surprise you.

What have you done to improve or maintain the relationship your chapter has with your inter/national headquarters? Leave a comment below!

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