By Jeff Knight on Volunteers
Ask, WHAT needs to be Consistently Executed?
I’ve discovered in my years of working with volunteers that clarifying the objective in writing is the only way to achieve consistent execution. For instance, years ago I was a Team Leader with Teen Mania. We were given a manual to read, books to reinforce what was in the manual and then trained for 2 solid days on what was expected of us. At the end of that experience I felt like I was ready to consistently execute the expectations.
If you find yourself leading in a volunteer organization do what is absolutely necessary to develop consistency. Write the manual, host training weekends; most of all, make sure your volunteers know what is expected of them so they can consistently perform to the highest level. The return they receive will be worth your time times infinity.
Sometimes we can communicate what is important, but we neglect to enforce the objectives. What begins as a really good plan can end with something completely different because there was no expectation, procedure or process. If a leader wants consistency from volunteers procedures must be defined.
Ask, WHAT is UNIQUE?
If you find yourself leading in a volunteer organization it is imperative you allow for volunteers to develop their own leadership skills. I’m not suggesting to minimize objectives or requirements for success, but allowing personality, individual gifting and values to emerge will only benefit the organization in the long run.
At first emulation is a critical component to identifying those who are with the leader, but with time volunteers must begin developing their own leadership. Cloning the leader is not success; Diversity with commonality is success.
When I first started volunteering with students at the age of 18 I wanted to imitate the strong leaders around me. Even today when I find myself around strong leaders I want to emulate their strengths because I respect what they possess so much. Nevertheless, excessive emulation can be detrimental.
Ask, WHERE can we FAIL?
A healthy culture for volunteers is a culture where failure is cared for as an asset. How can failure be a positive?
Failure, unmet expectations, learning experiences, call it what you want, it will happen with volunteers and when it does, how I respond is vital to health and growth. Every volunteer, not one of them will do it on purpose.