Congratulations on becoming the advisor for your school’s yearbook committee! You should be proud of yourself. You’re about to embark on a creative and memorable journey to define your school through an iconic book.
But… don’t blow out your candles just yet… you might need that wish when tackling some of the challenges presented by managing a passionate (for lack of a better word) group of students and staff. Any club or committee comes with diverse groups of people, each with their own dynamic personalities, ideas, creative juices… and of course, opinions. It will be your responsibility to oversee the group and get them to agree on not only one or two items, but a whole slew of topics that go into creating a yearbook.
That party horn is a little deflated now, isn’t it? Well, fear no more – we’re here to help you through it!
The key to managing a diverse group is to create an environment that is low-stress, organized, and fun. When people feel like they are part of a team and their voice is being heard, things will go smoothly. But, you may be wondering just how to accomplish this harmonious habitat.
TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR YEARBOOK COMMITTEE
- Don’t be one of those unorganized clubs that meets at irregular or sporadic times. Create a weekly or bi-weekly meeting, same day and time, and make it known that everyone needs to attend. The most accomplished clubs are the ones that set rules and expectations up front, so people know what is coming and there are no surprises. Create a contract that each committee member will sign when they join. It can be a simple document clarifying that being a part of yearbook committee is a commitment, and they will need to put in the work. You don’t need to come off like a dictator, you can keep it light and even humorous… but everyone needs to know that you mean business.
- Create an organizational chart to facilitate a chain of command. People shouldn’t feel like there is a pecking order, but there does need to be structure. Illustrating this diagram will show connections within the group – who will be working with whom, who will have the final say, and more. To keep things diplomatic, you can hold it to a vote when assigning team leaders. There could be a leader for each part of the yearbook, such as: photography, writing, design, layout, and so on. While there may be smaller groups, make it clear that you are one entity, and make sure to bring everyone together at the weekly meetings.
- It’s important to keep everyone busy and feeling like they have something to do. The moment someone gets bored or feels undervalued is the moment things start to unravel. This can have a chain reaction, and you may start to lose focus from the entire group. People may even start to drop out of the committee. Therefore, make sure that roles and responsibilities are clear. Similarly, when people are working hard without acknowledgment, their work can start to deteriorate. Always take an interest in what each person is doing and provide positive, sincere encouragement.
- Keep attitudes in check. The only thing worse than boredom is negativity or arrogance. This book is supposed to be fun, so don’t lose sight of that. There should be no tolerance for people copping bad attitudes with one another, trying to steamroll others, or becoming bossy. This will bring the whole group down and can bring the whole yearbook down, too.
- Create a culture, not a cult, within your committee. It’s okay for people to have wild ideas or become very passionate. That shows that they care and are committed to the cause. It’s guaranteed that your committee will have some pretty lively personalities, so let them shine. What one person sees as a crazy idea might just spark some insights within the rest of the group, so keep the creative ideas coming. This can help ideas flow, and ultimately lead to a supreme yearbook. Encourage friendship and teamwork within the group. Hold a “secret Santa” during the holidays, order in food for the team on Fridays (taking time to eat together can boost your bond and make members feel appreciated), take a field trip, etc. This will help create commonalities between the committee members and will foster bonding, which can only help your end product.
- Try your best for retention. Not everyone in the committee will be graduating seniors, so when you find a good group, try to hold onto them. Boost participation from year-to-year. Use strong committee members as a source of marketing material. Word-of-mouth is very popular in school, so encourage them to tell their peers about yearbook. Hold a meeting toward the end of the school year where you personally meet with students and talk about yearbook committee. You can make it more of a “party,” pass out food, prizes, play music… keep it interesting and fun.
There will always be challenges with any activity that draws distinctive groups of people. Make sure to stay organized and focused… you are the leader and will set the example for everyone. Nurture continuity, creativity, and cooperation and you’ll do great!