After a 44 year absence, the North Korean soccer team finally returned to the World Cup in 2010, only to lose three games in a row and return home. This is a crushing story for the country, but it is also to be expected for any team’s first appearance in a major tournament. Unfortunately, officials in North Korea didn’t see the same silver lining. According to a story on ESPN today, “The team and coach Kim Jong-Hun were summoned to a July 2, six-hour meeting at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang and subjected to severe criticism.” Team members were confronted in front of 400 onlookers before being forced to reprimand their coach. The coach was also chastised by officials for betraying the country’s leaders.
We can easily imagine a familiar scene:
the new member class just screwed up the big service event they were leading. It was their first opportunity to work together, and no one had ever planned an activity before. Because of their lack of experience, they forgot to register the event, ran out of supplies and panicked when a huge line formed at the door. They learned a lot from this situation, but the program was ultimately a bust. Now they’re disappointed and embarrassed.
Decision time. How do you make sure that these new members execute their next event flawlessly? Here are two options. Take your pick.
- Lead them through a debriefing process. Have them pinpoint the things they overlooked and brainstorm other issues that could have gone wrong. Teach them about event registration process and have chapter officers share stories about their own leadership successes and failures. Develop a complete plan of action for another event that you plan to hold with their help later this semester. Appoint 3-4 experienced chapter members to guide them in executing this event.
- Get angry. Ridicule them for screwing up. Make sure they know how much of a disappointment and embarrassment they are to the chapter. Point out all of the things they did wrong and berate them for it. Make them feel worse for letting you down.
The answer should be obvious. Option 1 will develop stronger leadership abilities and set the stage for a healthy, top-performing chapter for years to come. New members will rebound by immediately, and they now have someone coaching them along the way. They might even get excited and come up with new, better and exciting ways to improve the chapter!
Option 2 might feel good for a short time to a few people. But the rest of the chapter becomes filled with anger, frustration and apathy. New members feel even worse about their mistake. They might even retaliate in anger, or hold a perpetual grudge against their elders. It is true that they may be motivated to work a little harder next time, but that motivation will come from a place of anger and spite, not passion and achievement.
Let this story teach us two lessons:
- Teams and new member classes are already motivated. They are excited, passionate and will do anything it takes to win. Our job is to unlock and direct that energy, not to provoke it.
- Berating people for their failures doesn’t help. Do you think that the North Korean soccer team is now better at blocking shots or moving the ball after being scolded? Not so much. Give people the coaching they need to overcome and correct the mistake. Next year, they might even make it to the finals.
For more about how to build a healthier, top-performing chapter through new member education, visit our From Hazing to Health page.