Managing your Reps
The role of lead representative, while very different from a typical management role, possess a high degree of overlap with the role of a manager in terms of requisite skills, attitudes, and approaches. Below is some general guidance on effectively managing your reps in a way that keeps them interested in, and engaged with, their responsibilities and role.
Be knowledgeable and stay informed
As the bridge of information between students, the University, and the Guild, it is essential to not only have a clear understanding of Student Representation within your subject department, and how it fits in to the Student Representation system as a whole, but also to stay up to date with information.
Be sure to check the emails we send, speak with your Student Community and Partnerships Associate and Director of Education frequently, keep up to speed with the feedback collected by reps, and listen to what the students in your discipline are discussing.
Be consistent and clear with communication
Keeping in regular contact with your reps, and providing them with information in a clear and timely manner, will help them to feel supported and informed.
Combine this with regularly meeting up with the members of your student rep council to help reps to feel like part of a group.
Be careful not to leave reps feeling unsupported or out of the loop, as this can cause them to disengage.
Empower Your Reps
Parts of both the Officer and Rep training sessions focus on providing those involved in representation with a sense of empowerment. This is true of both interactions with students and staff. Making sure reps have the knowledge and support to take the intitiative when it comes to collecting and presenting feedback is key to empowering them in their roles, and a crucial part of managing your reps.
Empathy is Essential
Developing an understanding of your reps' motivations, interests, workloads, and the pressures they face, will help manage your expectations, and inform how you should act as a Chair. If a rep is unable to fulfill their responsibilities, or isn't communicating with you consistently, try and understand the reasons behind this, before deciding on a course of action.
If they have particular strengths they want to use, discuss a possible portfolio role. If they're struggling to balance responsibilities and studies, give them time to focus on course work. If they're no longer interested in the representative role, discuss whether they would like to leave their post.
Lead by Example
Make sure that you are fulfilling your responsibilities as a Chair, and setting the example for the reps in your student council.
Balance Structure and Flexibility
While clear instruction and communication is important to keep reps feeling like they have a clear idea of what they should be working on, it is important to allow for some degree of flexibility (provided it is in line with their responsibilities and the objectives of the student council). Give Reps enough breathing room to take initative, suggest potential changes or actions, and approach their responsibilities in their own way.
Understand when improvement is needed
It is also important to understand when a rep is consistently disregarding their responsibilities, and when or how to inform them that they need to improve. Doing so can be a tricky and unpleasant task, and is not something which should be done without proper cause and thought. See the section on Removing a Rep from Post for advice on notifying reps of when they need to improve, and what the next steps are if they do not.