This is an extremely quick read (6o-ish pages which can be read in under 30 minutes), but offers some real gems for anyone working with student organizations.
The target audience for this book is the top third of all student organizations, those over-involved, crazy over the top students who want to be everything to everyone and put the needs of their organizations over their academics and most everything else in their lives (I was definitely guilty of this as a student). Rather than focus on the bottom third of the organization, those bare-minimum, often complaining and unreliable members of the group, Sullivan emphasizes the need to work at connecting with the mid-range group. These individuals may not be as completely devoted as the top tier, but are still much more committed and willing to participate than the bottom tier.
Sullivan offers a list of thirteen strategies for the superstars of the group to better engage the 'middle', thus strengthening the group as a whole:
- Ask their opinion, but don't ask them to do anything else
- Ask "what one thing do you think we could be doing that we aren't that would make this group stronger?
- Start and end your meetings on time
- Invite the significant others
- Give them more choices and the ability to skip the things they don't enjoy
- Minimize the conflict in your group to the greatest extent possible
- Let the middle member lead on the thing he likes most
- Thank them for participating
- Offer to assist with other stressful areas
- Give them a meaningful supporting role
- Ask for help on one specific, limited-time task
- Take some personal time with them
- Slow down on the decisions
In reading the given descriptions, I found a few errors that I myself make with the groups I advise, and am looking forward to applying some of these ideas. I am also strongly considering purchasing a few extra copies of the book to hand out to my Senior Resident Assistants and Residence Council President in hopes that it will help them in their work with student leaders.