Officer Transition Manuals
The Phi Sigma Pi Officer and Chair Transition Manual
Transition is vital to the future of the chapter. Don't just ignore it! Ideally, your officers and chairs should all be elected to allow at least four weeks of shadowing and one-on-one training/transition. The following are suggestions for strengthening transition so the new officers/chairs don't feel like they are up the creek without a paddle.
Each officer and chair should have an effective binder. It should be a helpful tool for the incoming officer or chair to use throughout their term.
- Officer or Chair Handbook These handbooks are available in the "Brothers Only" section of the National Website]. Each handbook highlights and describes the specific duties of the officer and chair positions as stated in the Phi Sigma Pi National Constitution and the Phi Sigma Pi National Operating Policy.
- List of Responsibilities: This list should go beyond what is outlined in the National Constitution and your chapter by-laws. For example, if you committee always plans formal, put that on the list. If your position is in charge of updating the chapter website, write it down. If you're supposed to reserve the rooms for the meetings, be sure to mention that. If you recognize birthdays, make sure to mention it, etc... List every possible thing that you can think of that your position or committee is in charge of.
- Form 110 Report: The Form 110 Report gives a description of the goals, events, and suggestions of the previous officer or chair. It is a useful document to refer to when deciding whether or not to continue a particular event or activity that the chapter has done in the past. When you write your Form 110 report - put a copy of it in your transition binder! This way, the new officer or chair won't have to go looking for it.
- List of ongoing ideas: Never discount any idea. You never know what could spark someone to twist a seemingly crazy idea into a feasible one. The committee should brainstorm to add to this list at least once a semester. An ongoing list of ideas is available for the committees in the "Brothers Only" section of www.phisigmapi.org.
- Governing Documents: These files help officers and chairs to understand their positions as well as to clarify why certain events and activities are organized in the way that they are. It is important to include the governing documents of both the National Fraternity and the local chapter. These documents include the Phi Sigma Pi National Constitution, Phi Sigma Pi National Operating Policy, Chapter by-laws, Chapter operating policy, and the Chapter Risk Management Manual.
- Contact Information: A contact sheet for all people, departments offices, businesses, organizations, etc. related to the position is useful so that the new chair does not have to "re-discover" good contacts.
- Goals: This should include information about what past committees and officers were working toward and what has been accomplished as a result. This should also include anything that you have discussed with your Region Consultant during their visit, such as long-term goals or projects (i.e ordering dual signature checks instead of signature checks the next time you reorder checks or suggestions on how to make events more successful the next time you do it.
- Chapter Calendar: It is important for your chapter to collectively make a calendar at the end of each semester/quarter for the following semester/quarter. Put all the certainties on it ahead of time (initiation calendar, holiday breaks, big athletic events, big university events, convention, regional and ICR events, elections, etc.). The calendar should be set as far in advance as possible. Each officer and committee should have everything that they're doing on the master calendar so other committees and chairs can program around the entire chapter. Obviously things will come up and be added to the calendar, but too often we don't take the time to simply log onto our school's website to see when Relay for Life, Homecoming, the rival game or Spring Fest is. Universities set their calendars months in advance, so we can easily set ours one month in advance.
- Event Planning & Evaluation Sheets: An example evaluation sheet is available in the Vice President’s handbook in the “Brothers Only” section of www.phisigmapi.org. It is suggested that you hold on to all planning and evaluation sheets for one full year following the term that they were written. After a year, toss those sheets out unless they contain valuable information about a large-scale event. Also make sure that the list of ongoing ideas is updated before throwing away any evaluation sheets. That way, a committee chair/officer can keep track of events done in the past and maybe do them in the future.
- CDs/Flash Drives If your position uses any files that could be easily updated from year to year, it is a good idea to store them on a CD or flash drive. For example, burning a sign-up sheet for your yearly philanthropy event or a contact file for alumni will make updating these files much easier. Be sure to have at least two copies of any CDs made so that if one of them gets scratched or corrupted, your chapter doesn’t lose important information.
- Frequently Asked Questions Officers should write their FAQ sheets individually. Chairs should work with the entire committee to write their FAQ sheets as a group. Brainstorm any and all questions you had to ask yourself during your term and put that in your FAQ section.
- Letter: This should be a personal letter from you to the future officer or chair. This letter is meant to wish your successor luck and welcome them to contact you with questions. Be sure to include your future e-mail address, phone number or AIM screen name.
All newly elected/appointed chairs and officers should be watching how their predecessors conduct themselves during meetings.
Meetings with Predeccessors
Every newly-elected/appointed officer and chair should meet with their predecessor on a weekly basis outside of all scheduled Phi Sigma Pi mmetins and events. Grab lunch, dinner or coffee together. Outgoing chairs and officers need to open up to new chairs and officers and tell them the ins and outs of the position. What are the frustrating parts? The easy parts? What should you be doing when? What do you wish you would have known going into the position?
Schedule a meeting for the following semester if the predecessor will still be around campus or in the area. Schedule a time about three to four weeks into the new semester so that if the new person has any more questions after getting into the position, they have the opportunity to ask them.
Let the new e-board run the last two meetings of the semester so they can start to get their feet wet. After the meeting adjourns, old e-board should meet with the new e-board to give them pointers and discuss ways they can improve their Robert’s Rules or general meeting efficiency. This also encourages new members to learn from their mistakes and gives them an opportunity to solicit feedback. Just remember to focus on the procedure, not the approach; the new e-board may have a style all its own.
For committee heads, it can be useful if the old committee head and the new committee head work together to plan the first event of the following semester. This helps ease the transition and helps you to jumpstart the chapter’s programming without losing ground when you come back from winter or summer break.
Be sure to read any documents relevant to your position during your winter or summer break. These include your transition binder, documents from the national website, Robert’s Rules, local and national governing documents, and any materials or training items your university has as resources.
Whatever you do, don’t wait to do elections until the very end of your term and DO NOT just hand off your binder or box to the next person and disappear off of the face of the planet. It doesn’t work well for anyone! By implementing these steps, you will help your chapter not lose ground as it switches from one set of officers/chairs to another.
Please note, that this page is a work in progress and will be completed in the coming days.
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