How to advise membership problems
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How to Advise Membership Problems USC&A- Office for Student Organization Development Before Approaching the Situation When there is an organizational problem, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the advisor has to be the one to confront the situation.

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How to AdviseMembership Problems

USC&A- Office for Student Organization Development

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Before Approaching the Situation

  • When there is an organizational problem, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the advisor has to be the one to confront the situation.

  • Whenever possible, try to help students who notice a problem solve it on their own.

  • Guiding students to take on their own conflicts will greatly benefit their effectiveness as a student and professional leader.

  • Share possible ways to approach the situation and provide tools to help them through the situation.

  • If the confrontation is unsuccessful and the conflict is intruding on organization principles, procedures, and group morale then the advisor should step in.

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Top 10 Communication Tips

  • Listen Carefully & Think Before Speaking

  • Discuss Positive Feelings

  • Use Good Timing

  • Consider Other’s Needs

  • Use “I” Messages

  • Speak Clearly & Specifically

  • Be Open-Minded

  • Encourage Others to Communicate

  • Respond Positively to Constructive Criticism

  • Be Honest

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Common Membership Problems

  • Low attendance at meetings

  • Members have low satisfaction and morale, are bored, do not communicate well, feel left out or are apathetic

  • An individual member's goals differ from those of the organization

  • There exists a lack of trust among members

  • Programs fail

  • There is a lack of ideas

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Low Meeting Attendance

If there is low attendance at meetings, have the leaders reflect on

the following questions:

  • Is the organization meeting too often?

  • Do the meetings have purpose?

  • Are the meetings lasting longer than they should?

  • Are the meetings at a time that’s convenient for the majority?

  • The leaders should ask the group why their attendance has been low.

  • To avoid future attendance problems, the organization should come up with a semester long calendar with meetings times that they can all agree upon.

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Low Satisfaction

If members have low satisfaction and morale, are bored, do not communicate well, feel left out or are apathetic:

  • The leaders should make sure that they are setting time aside in meetings for getting to know each other and team building.

    • Suggest that they start meetings off with an activity that allows group members to talk, communicate and laugh.

    • Have the leaders choose different members of the organization to plan and facilitate the opening activity to get more members involved.

  • The leaders should also consider having a safe anonymous way for members to communicate their feelings.

    • Pass a box around at the end of meetings so that members can leave suggestions, thoughts, feelings for the organization leadership.

    • The leaders can discuss the notes left in the box at their executive board meeting and decide the best approach, if any.

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Individual Goals vs. Organization Goals

If an individual member's goals differ from those of the organization:

  • Remember that members should be a part of the organization because they want to elevate the mission of the organization.

  • If the member’s actions have not been in the best interest of the organization, share your observations with the student.

  • Tell the student that you are concerned because the actions he/she has been exhibiting do not align with the goals of the group.

  • Ask the student what he/she thinks.

  • Is there a way that the student’s goals can enhance the organization goals?

  • Is the best decision for the student to find another group where his/her goals are a better match?

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Lack of Trust

If there is a lack of trust among members:

  • Incorporate team building into already planned gatherings, or try to have a weekend retreat where the members can get to know each other better.

  • Sometimes it’s best to bring in an outside unbiased facilitator so that the whole group can have the same experience.

  • Team building is trust building.


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Programs Fail

If programs fail:

  • Remind the organization that it’s okay that programs fail because it’s a learning experience.

  • Suggest that the group evaluates their performance and what they could do better for the following year.

    • What were the negatives of the program?

    • What were the positives of the program?

  • If they don’t plan on having the program again, they should still reflect on their performance so that the same mishaps don’t occur for another program.

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Lack of Ideas

If there are a lack of ideas:

  • At least once a semester, the leaders should set one meeting aside for idea sharing and brainstorming.

  • To be sure that everyone has an opportunity to share their ideas, hang large posters around the room with different categories on each (program ideas, meeting ideas).

  • Each member can walk around and write their ideas on the poster, or each member can be given sticky notes to hang on the poster board.

  • Split the organization into randomized groups (enough groups for each poster) and have the group go over the ideas on their assigned poster.

  • Have the group share the ideas on the poster and summarize what they think the needs of the organization are according to the topic.

  • The executive board members should discuss the ideas in their next meeting and then share with the group how they plan to incorporate them into the role of their positions.

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  • Virginia Commonwealth University Advisor Handbook

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  • Virginia Commonwealth University Advisor/Student Checklist

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  • Virginia Commonwealth University Advisor/Student Roles

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  • American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Advisor Manual

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Contact Information

  • Office for Student Organization Development

  • 907 Floyd Avenue, University Student Commons, Suite 018

  • (804) 828-3648

  • [email protected]