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I Dream of … a Great Advisor … And Tips to Maintain a Good Relationship

  • Sit down and discuss the role of the advisor in the organization with everyone. Every student leader will have a different level of support from the advisor. It is vital to the strength of the advisor/organization relationship that you establish this level of involvement as early as possible. No involvement by the advisor is NOT an option, but having a “behind the scenes” approach is very acceptable. Remember that you need them; it’s better to have them in your corner earlier than later. Always keep the advisor informed of meetings and activities, and be honest.
  • Invite them to all of your meetings. Try to set meeting times that are good for your organization members and advisor. Host the meetings at a decent hour and in an accessible location. Late evenings are often hard for advisors who have to go home and come back to campus. If this is not possible, ask that your advisor come to a meeting once a month. This is the best way to guarantee a high level of commitment by your advisor. By participating in the meetings, the advisor will know all the background information and can provide valuable insight early in the process.
  • Schedule weekly, one-on-one meetings with your advisor. This will provide valuable mentoring time, as well as an opportunity to work out logistics and policy issues before heading off to an organizational meeting. This is a great time to establish the agenda for the next meeting and discuss any personnel or financial issues the organization may be dealing with. This weekly meeting will help keep you organized and will help the advisor to feel that they know what is going on with the organization. This meeting may include other officers too.
  • Sit down with your advisor and talk about proposed activities. Let them know what they can help you with. Don’t wait until the last minute before going to talk with your advisor. If you are hosting an event, you must have an advisor present for the entire event. Please make sure your advisor will be available before you commit to an event.
  • It may seem obvious, but make sure to remind your advisor to be at all your events. Since many advisors have families, invite the families as well. Having your advisor at an event is not only required, but can be beneficial in case an issue arises, whether with the venue or the artist. Your advisor will be better apt to handle such crises and it will take the pressure off of you. It is also nice to have your advisor see firsthand how all of the hard work has paid off.
  • In addition to providing copies of your organization agendas and minutes to your members, make sure that you route one to your advisor. This will allow for your advisor to keep a complete file of information on the club. It will also provide a great reference tool for issues that may arise down the road. At the very least, it is one more person who knows what went on in case organization files are lost during leadership transitions. Do things in a timely manner; don’t expect your advisor to be able to drop everything to help you with a last minute request. Don’t ask the advisor to do work that you should do for yourself.
  • Involve your advisor in rewrites of your organizational constitution or charter. This will make your advisor a very valuable resource down the road. Knowing where the organization started and where it is headed will provide legitimacy to how the organization operates. Encourage advisors to attend advisor roundtables, workshops, and other leadership opportunities with you and the members of your group.
  • Since your advisor has played a larger role in the organization and a working relationship exists between the leaders of the organization and the advisor, it is important to include your advisor in the selection/election process of new leaders. Your advisor will provide an objective viewpoint when it comes to putting the most qualified people into leadership roles. Use it!
  • Do fun stuff with your advisor. Go to conferences, go out for dinner, invite them to your recitals or athletic matches and go shopping for prizes and supplies together. Include your advisor in the fun and games that make being part of the organization worth it. Keep in mind that your advisor volunteered for this position because they wanted to help you.
  • Recognize your advisor. Advisors do not get paid extra for their work with your organization, though for some, it is part of their job description. You need to make sure you let them know that you value their involvement. Present them with an award at the end of the school year. Make sure that you order them the latest organization T-shirt. Write an article in the school paper about how great your advisor is. Write a letter to their supervisor letting them know about the important role this person plays in the success of your organization (make sure to send one to your advisor as well). Send them a card on Bosses Day or just a quick note to say thanks for all they do. Advisors do not get paid for their time. Keeping them informed and saying “thank you” for their help goes a long way in keeping a good advisor for your organization. The littlest things mean the world to your advisor. Most of them do the job because of you. Remember that.