Operations Advisor Accreditation, page 2
Effective Cabinet Management
The most important job of the two vice presidents is to effectively manage their two cabinets/committees. As mentioned in the previous page, this is likely the first time that these two men have ever had someone report directly to them and the first time they have been in a managerial role. As an advisor, we can use our accumulated knowledge to help better advise and support the vice presidents as they learn and grow in their role.
Pi Kappa Alpha, through alumni surveys, knows that one of the top skills that our alumni say they learned during their time in the chapter is how to lead a group of their peers. Below are some tips to pass along to your respective vice presidents on how they can more effectively manage their cabinets.
One of the top benefits to having a chapter goal setting retreat is that the executive board, including the operations team, can learn what the chapter wants to get out of their fraternity experience. The goal setting retreat should act as a playbook for what the external vice president and internal vice president need to accomplish in their term. In order to help meet that playbook, the vice presidents should implement the following practices:
- Advance planning. Prior to each term following the chapter goal setting retreat, the executive council should prepare a tentative schedule of chapter events. Each vice president, working with his chairmen, could then develop and update a detailed schedule of the coming two weeks. This schedule could be posted or distributed at weekly meetings. This advance planning will help increase attendance to chapter events and avoid time conflicts between members.
- Posted/Distributed lists. Following weekly cabinet meetings, the vice presidents could either post or distribute a list, detailing what each committee will be working on for the coming week. The list will help hold the chairmen accountable for meeting their weekly expectations.
- Weekly cabinet meetings. While it is not number one on this list, the number one practice to ensure success as a vice president is to hold weekly cabinet meetings. Without these meetings, it is impossible for the vice president to hold his chairman accountable, discuss the problems/issues that are arising, and plan for the next week. It is imperative to have these meetings – even if they are short due to lack of activity.
- Weekly committee meetings. Committee chairmen should meet weekly with their committees prior to the weekly cabinet. These meetings will help the chairman keep his committee focused on the goal for that week. Just as the vice president rewards his chairmen, so should the chairmen reward their committee members. This could be accomplished by varying the meeting location and activities at the meeting (i.e. having pizza at the meetings, member of the week, etc.) By holding the committee chairmen accountable, the vice president ensures the committees stay on task.
- Written committee reports. After meeting with his committee, the chairman should prepare a brief report outlining the meeting for the vice president each week. By doing this on a regular basis, the chairmen hold a vested interest in the committee’s progress.
While managerial skills are important for the vice presidents to incorporate into their leadership style, serving with and leading amongst the chairman is equally important. The vice president should be expected to help assist and lead the chairman in his cabinet that might be less experienced than the VP at his role. Good leaders always ask the following questions:
- How can I help you in your role?
- Are the expectations clear?
- Let me know what I can do to assist
By asking these questions, not only is the VP going to build rapport with his cabinet members, but he is also going to be able to hold the committee members accountable since he will be actively involved in helping. Additionally, asking questions this way will help the VP look less like he is micro-managing but more as leading by example
Lastly, any good leader needs to be able to effectively hold those around him accountable who fail to meet expectations. In order to do that, the leader should ensure that expectations are communicated. This could be done via a one-on-one conversation where the VP sits down with the struggling chairman and 1: outlines the expectations, 2: offers assistance and 3: challenges the chairman to step their game up.
Ultimately, after repeated interventions, if the chairman does not increase his performance to the level expected then it might be time to remove the chairman and appoint a new person. After all, it is the ultimate responsibility of the VP to appoint and manage their cabinet and they are responsible for any failures.