Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership

Campus Life

Motivating Members

Motivation is not an exact science, but there are a few things you can do to keep your members interested and motivated to helping the team. Here are a few quick hints:

  • Delegate responsibility to members. Give credit where it is due - praise in public.
  • Make your wishes known by suggestions or requests, not demands, and explain why.
  • Never forget that the leader sets the style for her/his members. So show your members that you have confidence in them and you expect them to do their best.
  • When you are wrong or make a mistake, admit it. Don't be upset by little mistakes - it's a learning process.
  • Give members a chance to take part in decisions, particularly those affecting them.


The best way to motivate and retain members is through delegation. Most people think this mean clean-up duty or pointless tasks, but the approach to delegation should be more thoughtful. What strengths to your members possess. Art majors? Have them create the flyer. Business focused? Ask them to contact service providers.
5 Phase Approach to Delegation:

  1. Preparation: Establish the goals of the delegation task; list the expectations and deadlines.
  2. Planning: Describe all the tasks and decide who will take responsibility for which tasks.
  3. Discussion: Review objectives of the tasks as well as the plan for action; discussion potential obstacles and how to avoid them.
  4. Follow-Through: Trust they will complete the task but make yourself available for help and check in with them from time to time.
  5. Appreciation: Accept the completed tasks and acknowledge members’ efforts. Make your gratitude timely and clearly communicated so they know exactly what they did well.

Keep In Mind

  • You need to be able to visualize and articulate your goals if you expect others to understand them and succeed.
  • Do not repeatedly assign someone a certain task just because they are good at it or are considered “responsible” people.
  • Let people know how their tasks fit into the whole process and what the positive results will be for the entire project.
  • Never revoke delegation - failing is a learning experience.
  • Recognize members for their efforts or they wont feel appreciated and next time they may not be as successful.
  • Never force someone to take on a task. The point is to inspire and encourage your members to want to help.

Recognizing Members

The model below is based on research done by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of the Leadership Challenge. The worksheet was developed to assist student groups in creating an environment where student members feel appreciated, valued, and contributing members of an effective organization. More information on this model can be found in their follow up book; Encouraging The Heart, A Leaders Guide to Rewarding & Recognizing Others.

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