#033: The Three Essentials of Officer Training

A couple weeks ago I unexpectantly ran into an old friend that I first met back at a student org officer retreat when I was in high school. Our student org would get together with seven neighboring chapters and hold a summer retreat designed to get us ready for the upcoming school year.

After that encounter, I started thinking back to the officer retreats I attended, the ones I work with now, and how they play a part in the overall officer training plan.

I am amazed that the vast majority of student organization’s officer training is… nothing. They don’t do anything to train their officers. They just expect that they either have the skills or figure them out. This is absurd to me but I’ll hold back my rant on this topic for another day.


The next most common component of an officer training is a summer retreat. This is great. I loved those summer officer retreats when I was a student org officer and even now they are my favorite programs to work with. I would take a retreat over a keynote every day of the week.

However, these summer retreats aren’t always effective. They can be major information overload sessions and if all you do is a summer retreat will likely forget much of the information when they actually need it several months down the road.

This podcast episode will help you get the most out of your officer training.


To help design a better officer training I believe there are three main components; Motivation, Team Dynamics, and Processes. Each play a different role and each play an integral part to a high performing officer team.

Here’s there breakdown:

Motivation – This always makes me think of the old Chris Farley character, Matt Foley sitting downstairs drinking coffee for four hours and talking about “living in a van down by the river!” Motivation is all about getting your officers fired up and inspired! It’s high energy, loud, active, jump up and dance around type of feeling.

Motivation is what gets you moving. It gets you moving NOW! It has a very high immediate return but it will fade away quickly. It’s like throwing gasoline on the blacktop and lighting it. Without anything else to fuel the fire it’s gone in a flash.  

Team Dynamics – This is the hard stuff. This is what pulls the team together and allows them to gel. This is the backbone of your officer team. Each team is made up of unique individuals and combining those different individuals with their own strengths, weaknesses, communication and personality styles can be tricky. Creating great team dynamics requires intention and constant focus. This is a long game.

Processes – We are creatures of habit. And when you combine several unique individuals all with different habits and preferences one of the most important things you can do is define and create Processes or systems for them to follow. This can range from how a meeting is conducted to the communication practices of your team to how you delegate projects. These can be slow to define and can take some getting used to. I’ve found that it is often better to go slow so you can go fast.

Take the time to put good processes in place the first few months and you will be amazed at the results in the long run.

There is so much more I want to dive into on the topic of officer trainings (I’ve already started a book outline) but that will have to wait for another day. But this should give you something to start thinking about.

Take Action Challenge

Enhance your officer training

  • Which component are you the best at?
  • Which do you need the most work on?
  • What is one way you can improve that component?
  • Plan a way to put it into action!

Tip of the Week

Bring order to the chaos.
Get and use a physical inbox to organize all your paper, mail, documents, and any physical material
    • A tray in one location
    • Gather everything there
    • Empty each day or at least at the end of the week
    • Use to delegate and communicate with teammates



  1. Very excited to announce a resource that will be available very soon, Extreme Ed University. This is a resource for teachers, advisors, and student officers who want to learn how to run leadership and team building activities. To find out more visit LearnTeamBuildingActivities.com
  2. Get a free audiobook from our sponsor for this episode Audible. Go to NickPalkowski.com/book
  3. COMMENT QUESTION: What is your favorite component of your current officer training?

Episode Resources

Quote: “An automobile goes nowhere efficiently unless it has a quick, hot spark to ignite things, to set the cogs of the machine in motion. So I try to make every player on my team feel he’s the spark keeping our machine in motion.” Coach Knute Rockne

Website: Get a free Audible book

App: 1Password

Tool: Recommended Physical Inbox – Advantus Hardwood Stackable Desk Tray

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