Wow…I can’t help but laugh and feel bad for the people crushed and the guy walking the camel who had NO idea what to do:
A Volunteer’s Plea
1. Tell me clearly what you expect of me
2. Give me the opportunity and resources to preform.
3. Let me know how I am doing.
4. Provide me with guidance, support, and training when I need it.
5. Acknowledge and praise my service accordingly.
Creating Your Own Frustrations?
Leaders, Are you the source to some of your own frustrations toward your volunteers?
While on church staff, there were times I was leading 3 or 4 different volunteer teams. Now, we know there is nothing better than a responsible, dedicated volunteer, Thank God for them. The kind of volunteer you trust to be there on time, who feels ownership over their area, and they do it well. One you don’t have to come behind, constantly adjusting and fixing things, not like the one you have to practically stalk to get an answer from during the week, or the one who constantly “calls in” the morning of…
I know lots of leaders who are frustrated with their volunteers for various reasons, 8 out of 10 times it is due to sloppy leadership. I got tons of examples that I will share throughout this series but here is one most leaders can identify with in some way. What is that one thing you always have to double-check or fix on/after Sunday because a volunteer did it incorrectly?
At church we rented the buildings we used on Sunday, which meant we setup all of our signs, tables, stage, ect… on Sunday morning. I had one volunteer team whose purpose was to setup signs, tables, offering baskets, and curtains. Almost every week, on my “patrol” walk I would notice one specific sign out of place, and move it to where it “should” be. Not a big deal, but when you do it every week… I started to notice myself getting frustrated.
What are my options here? Continue to move it every week and think about what a sloppy volunteer I have, they can’t even put the sign in the right spot. Until finally you break and let all your frustrations out on them, all of which they had no idea about, or just hold it all in and remain annoyed.
Maybe your issue isn’t signs, maybe it’s the way offering is counted, the way the coffee is made, or the way kids are being checked in. As long as you are there to fix it…no problem right?. So what happens when you aren’t there? You need to create a system that is independent of you, we will talk about this more in another section, but who is YOUR backup?
OR Talk to your volunteer…ask questions. Depending on who trained them, something could have gotten lost in translation. Is there a reason why they put the sign there every week, or why they count offering a certain way? You never know, they may have a good reason why it goes better somewhere else, after all they see it EVERY week. In most cases, they just didn’t know.
Here is where you help them gain a sense of ownership…by explaining to them why, in my case, the sign goes there. They don’t know that you spent hours walking the halls, strategically thinking through where each sign should go. What I didn’t mention before is if our sign is placed correctly it catches people exiting 2 different doors. Where my volunteer was putting it, it was only visible to the people exiting one door. By explaining that, showing them what it looks like as a guest, who doesn’t know where to go, they were able to understand why and remember because they have experienced it.
My point is…can you save yourself a headache, and an extra thing to do on Sunday, or a frustration just by simply having a conversation with a volunteer? No only are you not annoyed, but they now fell more connected to their role. If you continue to fix it yourself because that is easier than saying something…You create your own reality.
These are just my takes on volunteers and leading teams. Things that have worked and have not worked for me. Love you hear your feedback and experiences in leading or being a volunteer.
I went on the 1st of 2 missions to Haiti just after the earthquake in February. Our team had no agenda, other than to assist Pastor Caleb Lucien at his camp where he had welcomed the displaced. I put this little write-up piece together back in March and never did anything with it. There are some great stories from our team along with a few of my favorite pictures. Hope you enjoy, you can download the PDF below.
Occasionally I will submit a comment to Anderson Cooper’s Beat 360° blog. He posts a picture from the day and asks for captions. Who ever has the “best” caption, wins and is normally announced on his show. Well I finally won one, and the funny thing is I though it was one of my worst captions. Oh Well, I won on 11/4/2010.
What do you get? besides bragging rights, they send you a T-Shirt:
But what I was most excited about (lame alert) is that Anderson Cooper would have had to say my name. Well I watched the podcast from that night and NO they didn’t even show it this time, they should some video. I was upset 😦