by Jessica Gendron Williams
It Shouldn’t Be Easy.
So maybe you tried something new this year in recruitment. You got rid of skits or tried values-based recruitment for the first time or tried to focus on conversations first. Whatever it is that you might have tried, you might be leaving recruitment feeling like it didn’t work – that it was really hard and uncomfortable. Perhaps you feel like your members or the community didn’t “get it”.
You’re now getting ready to debrief recruitment or plan for next year’s recruitment – thinking about the changes you attempted – and wanting to trash the whole idea. It was too hard. It didn’t work perfectly the first time you did it. You felt a little unprepared for it. So the decision is made – go back to the way you did it before. The recruitment reviews might even tell you that the members or the chapters didn’t like the change either. It just seems easier and will make everyone happier to go back to what you were doing before.
I have some news for you: Change is hard.
Change should make you uncomfortable – if you are doing it right. There’s no growth in your comfort zone. There’s no comfort in the growth zone. The discomfort you, your members, or your community feel is a good thing – it means you’re getting better, evolving, changing – for the better. If you want to get better YOU HAVE TO GET UNCOMFORTABLE. It’s very rare that anyone can do anything for the first time and be AMAZING at it. You cannot expect it to be perfect the first time it ever happens in recruitment.
The reason that your chapter or community feels so comfortable doing what you’ve always done in recruitment – is because you’ve had plenty of practice – year and years of practice. Now, you make one tiny change and after trying it for the first time and you want to quit?
I beg you, please don’t – please don’t quit. Don’t give up on the changes just because it was a little hard. We’ve seen countless chapters and communities give up on important changes because it wasn’t perfect the first time they tried it – or it was too hard the first time – or it felt a little uncomfortable. You knew it was right to make this change when you started, don’t forget that now just because it was hard… It’s supposed to be hard.
The only way to get better is to get uncomfortable. The more and more you do it – the less and less uncomfortable you feel. Don’t give up after one try or one year. Get comfortable being a little uncomfortable.
by Taylor Deer
The difference between Checkers and Chess is vast. One of simplest ways to identify the differences is to take a look at who plays the game. Anyone can play a game of checkers, the rules are simple, you don’t have to strain your brain, there is a limited amount of options you can use to win the game. Heck if you lose, just blame it on the opponent not moving their back row.
On the flip side, only smart people play chess. How many times have you heard someone say “Chess is too tough for me!”. Chess pushes you to plan, to think 2-3 moves in advance, to out-think and out-strategize your opponent every step of the game. Every win and every loss can be learned from because you know what strategies you implemented and how to change them next time.
You can teach a gorilla how to play Checkers. Only the smartest, most cunning players play Chess.
When your chapter gets ready for recruitment, which game do you play?
I bet you that every other chapter on your campus is playing Checkers. Clean our house. Get our old trophies. Grab our flag. Find a table at the club fair. Stand in front and Ask “Hey have you ever thought about joining Greek Life?” Right next to the 8 other fraternities who are doing the same thing. Its simple. Its easy. Its safe. Heck, if you don’t get the guys you want, blame it on the IFC right?
What if we started playing Chess when everyone else plays Checkers.
Look three moves ahead:
Move 1: Ask,”Who do we want our next pledge class to be?”Leaders? Academics? Athletes? All three?
Move 2: Ask, “Where could we meet people like this?” Student Government Meeting? Intramural league? Honor society meeting? Library? Religious clubs?
Move 3: Show up to these meetings to be helpful, learn what they do. Make some friends, build some relationships.
While everyone else is designing rush t-shirt logo’s, organize a pick up football game near the freshmen dorms. Walk around and find freshmen who want to join in, make some friends. While the other houses are cleaning up the party from the night before, set up a community service event with your potential new members. Invite anyone else who wants to come along. While the other chapters are spending thousands of dollars on their complicated rush events, go with some of your brothers to an on-campus activity that the university is already putting on. Show up, have fun, make some friends, build some relationships.
Learn from your wins and loses:
Your recruitment team should be constantly asking itself “what is working for us right now?” and “What do we need to change in order to be successful?” The best recruiters are always adapting their strategy to things that give them the greatest advantage.
Be smarter than the rest. Some chapters think recruitment is simple, that all it takes is a table with some trophies and expensive events. They are playing checkers.
If you really want to find the best men on campus, you have to learn to play chess. You have to work smarter than everyone else. Find creative new ways to meet more people and build more relationships and I promise you will find a higher quantity of higher quality men.
When we visit college campuses and interact with sorority women, we often ask, “How was recruitment??” We want to know how things have gone, and perhaps more importantly, how they plan to continue to recruit. Almost every time I’ve asked that question in 2015, I’ve been greeted with the same response:
“THANK GOODNESS RECRUITMENT IS OVER!! I’M SO GLAD TO BE DONE!!”
This exasperation is often followed by an explanation of gratitude that recruitment went well, irritation with fellow sisters without great attitudes, and the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment—it’s complete, it’s over, and my work here is done.
This is a perfectly natural response, of course. Planning recruitment is hard work! Corralling all of your sisters into their bump groups, forcing them to practice their conversations and rotations, keeping the beat as you try to help your sisters stay in time during song and skit practice, facilitating the membership selection conversations, coordinating decorations and outfits…it’s more work than most understand. And being thrilled at the thought of being “done” is exactly the right emotion to have. Take a deep breath girl, give yourself a self-five, and take a nap. You nailed it!
But are we ever really “done”?
Done growing your chapter? Done working to help new, great women connect with your sisters? Done helping your women have great conversations about our values? Done sharing with others why our sorority experience has made our lives better? Done working together to show the cam-pus the best version of your chapter and its members? Done recruiting?
Your campus’ formal growth process may be over at this point, but I don’t think we’re “done.” Not yet. Not ever.
Let’s do some quick math….
How many people go to your school?
Subtract the number of men you go to school with (they can’t join you!)
Subtract the number of women who are already affiliated with a sorority or fraternity (they’ve already joined!)
That is the number of women on your campus that you have the potential to recruit. The number of women you have the opportunity to connect with, to share sorority with. The number of women who could join your chapter. The number of women you could grow by.
Not all of them will want to join you, and you won’t want them all to join you. And that’s okay. But you can’t recruit who you don’t know. You can’t find out if you’d like them to be your sister until you’ve met them. They can’t decide if they should be your friend (and eventually your sister) until they meet you. Until you connect with those unaffiliated women currently on your campus, reach out and make friends with them, they’ll never be able to join you. You can’t recruit who you don’t know.
Formal recruitment might be over, but our work is not done. What if we used the rest of this semester to make friends with women who are not yet affiliated? Women who have never thought about sorority before? Women who we take class with, play sports with, eat meals with, work out with, and walk past on campus— each one of those women has the potential to join you some-day. If, and only if, they first meet you.
We hope that formal recruitment was wildly successful for ALL of you—seriously, ever chapter in the country! But whether it was or wasn’t, we still have work to do. Help us grow. Help your community, your chapter, yourself. Take on a new recruitment focus for the rest of this semester: meet more non-affiliated women. Take the rest of this semester to recruit the women already on your campus, to meet them, get to know them, and be their friends. Your future sisters are out there waiting for you—all you have to do is meet them.
Alright football fans! You thought the season was over after the Buckeyes and Patriots were crowned champions?! Maybe we won’t be watching football games until next fall, but there’s always something to keep us interested in our favorite team.
Wednesday, February 4th is National Signing Day. This is the day that the best high school football players will decide which jersey they’ll be rocking for the next few years. This is a BIG deal. Websites like rivals.com and 247sports.com are dedicated to tracking the best prep players in the country. Rabid college football fans are ignoring work and class, trying to catch a glimpse of which prospects may or may not choose their school.
Prospects are ranked in a few different ways. There are lists of the best overall prospects, the best prospect at each position, and then there are the STAR ranking (1-5 stars. 1 = low, not so great. 5 = high, extremely talented).
On the morning of National Signing Day, I was listening to sports talk radio veterans Mike and Mike. Mike Golic, a former college and pro football player, was telling the recruiting story of his younger son, Jake.
When Jake was a junior in high school, he was invited to attend an all-star training camp for the best juniors around the country. Jake performed so well at this camp that he was named one of the best of the best, being awarded All-Combine honors. Jake then committed to Notre Dame like his dad and older brother had done before him.
That summer, before his senior season started, Jake was invited to even more all-star camps and combines. Jake declined those invitations and did not attend those camps because he already knew where he was going to play his college ball. When the STAR rankings came out right before the beginning of that season, Jake was given a 2 STAR ranking. This was surprising to the Golic family, because just a few months earlier, Jake was given the honor of the All-Combine team, and not a snap of actual football had taken place since then. Why was Jake given a 2 STAR ranking? All signs point to his absence at these camps and combines.
Fraternity Recruitment Parallel on two. Set Hike HIKE!
Camps and combines = Meet the Greeks and chapter recruitment events. At times, our view is limited based upon the people that seek us out, attend our camps and combines. We are so quick to forget about the other talent that exists on campus. Just because someone has not made their way to your recruitment event, does not mean that they don’t have amazing potential for your organization.
If Jake Golic’s story opened my eyes to one thing, it would be that some of the best talent is not actively seeking to be in our organizations. We slap a 5 star rating on the potential member that shows up to everything, but how can we be confident about that rating until we meet EVERY potential joiner. The QUANTITY of People that you meet with, will determine the QUALITY of your next new member class, line, associate etc.
Last interesting anecdote I’ll share, of the 44 total players in both starting lineups on Super Bowl Sunday, how many of them were 5 Star recruits coming out of high school? The answer – ZERO. In your experience, who typically makes the best members?
Think about it.
Once upon a time, a farmer gave each of his three sons a baby mule and a plot of land. Years later the three brothers sat together discussing the lazy, stubborn disposition of their animals. The first brother said, “I got so fed up, I bought a whip and beat my mule until he obeyed me.” The second brother cried, “I tried the whip, but learned that dangling a carrot in front of him was slightly more effective.” The youngest brother calmly interrupted and said, “I use neither the whip nor the carrot and enjoy pleasant rides to and from the marketplace.”
“HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE,” cried the elder brothers! “I traded my mule for a horse.”
There are two types of members in every chapter – horses and mules. Horses are the people who do the work. Mules are the ones who don’t. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a horse. Congratulations. It probably also means that you’re a leader, too, which means it’s likely that you experience a lot of pain from your mules. You’re chapter is filled with a bunch of members who just don’t seem to care: They don’t show up to things – and when they do they’re grumpy about it and sit in the back of the room complaining to each other the whole time.
You – and your fellow leader friends – are really good at “carrot” and “sticking” your members. You push and pull and beg and plead and bribe and punish them to attempt to get them to do things they don’t inherently want to do. You feel like you are banging your head against a wall over and over and over again. For some reason, no matter how hard you try, you can seem to get them – your mules – to care.
We’ve often said, “Gather your horses and get to work.” Meaning don’t worry about your mules, gather your already motivated members together and start getting work done. That’s not always an easy task – especially in recruitment. But it’s important – after all mules only recruit more mules. So “gather your horses,” yes, but if you’re willing to try, let’s allow our mules to try out the horse barn for a while. So how do you change a mule’s mind? How do you get a mule to care?
Get them to care about you.
Yep. It’s really that simple. All you have to do to turn a mule into a horse is to build a relationship with them because people don’t care about your cause, until they care about you. When your mules are invested in you, they’ll invest in supporting your projects, the events you’re in charge of, the committee you’re running, or anything you might ask them to do. They’ll care about that stuff because they care about you. Your ability to lead your chapter or your specific role in your chapter is greatly dependent on your ability to connect with the members.
Mules only care about stuff when they want to. If they care about you – they’ll work to help you in any way they can.
The only way to turn a mule into a horse is to make them your friend. So make a list of 5 members that you need on your side – ask them to coffee, sit with them at lunch, hang out – learn about them, build a relationship with them…
And stop banging your head against a wall.