Nope- This blog post is not about “how to write an OTM” and it’s not another OTM 101. My hope is that this post will encourage and rejuvenate your love for written recognition and that you are encouraged through some idea generation, which will rejuvenate how your institution approaches OTMs.
Of the Months… OTMs… why are they important? How are they useful?
We have each asked that questions and been asked that question. As my institution’s NRHH advisor, I will address my thoughts on this question. OTMs are an amazing opportunity to showcase another person; organization; activity or event that might not have received much deserved recognition for their hard work. We all get busy and sidetracked and often overlook recognition at the time of the event: the OTM is the perfect solution for this oversight.
Imagine… Someone who thought their work went unnoticed received a letter or email with an OTM dedicated to them. What they thought was unseen has been put to works of praise. What a morale booster for whoever that OTM was written about! What an extrinsic motivator for that person or group! What’s even better… Now they are likely to be intrinsically motivated to continue doing good things because they have confirmation that someone took notice… and cared enough to put their thoughts to paper!
Recently, on my campus, I have had to battle OTM’s being a popularity contest. How could OTM’s possibly be a popularity contest? When people were voting on OTMs that involved their friends without reading the other submissions and the same people were being recognized each month. It was getting under students’ nails because those that they had taken the time to submit an OTM for and that were deserving of recognition were not receiving the recognition they deserve because the same people kept getting the honors. How did I combat that? I proposed allowing only one person from each hall to be on the voting committee in place of all 18-20 members being on that task.
Just that small change, encouraged the returning members and it made that process more equitable for all. Only having one representative from each hall gives the other halls the ability to be represented.
Another thing to consider is how does your NRHH recognize those who write OTMs and have OTMs written about them? What about the campus and regional winner? Do you do something? Sometimes, budgets don’t allow it, and I totally get that. But what can you do to recognize winners with the resources that you have right around you?
How do you encourage others on your campus to write OTMs outside of the residence life area? Is this something that is seen as a possibility? While it might seem impossible to get others around your campus to sit and write a short essay about someone’s good deeds, you might be able to find a few people who would love to recognize those in their organizations or departments in this type of way. What a difference that could make in your campus culture. If people or groups are getting recognition, how could that effect your campus’ NRHH?
I think a majority of people want their work to be seen and recognized as good by others, and if we all could just take a few minutes to sit and reflect over our month and then write about an event or person that truly had an impact on us, how much more good are we giving back to the world? And in reality, if we could make a short, 350 word essay, a small priority in our work day, could we see some positivity in return?
I think, as advisors, it is our responsibility to see OTMs in a positive light and to encourage the positives. While people see it as another task, what good could it bring to a person after they read it? Think about those things and stress the positives to our students.
MACURH has wonderful resources on OTMs and so I would encourage your chapters to look at those and to encourage ways to gather groups of people together to write OTMs and make the writing process an enjoyable experience. Maybe gathering people together to write about others will spark ideas and then they can hold each other accountable to writing quality OTMs going into the future.
Don’t let OTMs be a road block for your chapters. Allow them to be an encouragement and recruitment tool for them. See the positives and build on that.