The following is a primer on the best ways to lose a volunteer. You need not employ all the methods, many people will quit after only one strategy. Remember, volunteers are individuals so you may need to experiment before you find an effective method for each one.
Perhaps the best way to lose volunteers is to fail to recognize them. People do not, as a rule, choose to volunteer to get credit, recognition or attention. People choose to volunteer for various organizations because they believe in the cause or the need of the people for whom they are working. That being said, there is a limit to how long they will continue to be engaged if nobody says thank you at some point. If you look you can find blog posts, and even books on the topic of how to keep volunteers and the top of the list is usually acknowledgement of their efforts.
You can actually lose volunteers before they even start! To do this, do not return their phone calls or emails in which they express interest in being of help and or place a lengthy complicated process in place (especially if you call it an application process).
Select one volunteer to do a task that really requires several.
Give several volunteers the task of doing something simple which would be better and more efficiently done by one.
Fail to listen to their suggestions for improvement. Treat them as though they have no education, background, or expertise.
Hover over them as though you don’t trust them to be competent.
Get a volunteer started on something and then never check in to see how things are going.
Expect that they will stay forever/ make it a life sentence.
Arrange times to meet with your volunteers and then cancel without notice, “Because something important came up.”
Stop thinking of a volunteer as a person, once they are on board they are just one of the numbers.
Hopefully it is clear to my readers that I do not actually advocate any of the above actions. Indeed it would make an excellent list of what not to do when you are working with people, either employed or volunteers.
Posted in Pet Peeves, Reflections
Tagged assigning tasks, attention, change, choices, church volunteers, feedback, help, improvement, leadership, management, recognition, respect, value service, volunteers
I am supervising exams this week at my school. Right now I am covering another teacher’s class while he has a break. This is a grade eleven math class, and if they have questions I will be of no use to them at all. I did pass math in high school but that was a very long time ago now.
What I see in front of me is a group of twenty some students with calculators, papers, and pencils. They glance back and forth between their exam, the calculator and the booklet. Some are looking off into space as if praying for divine inspiration or intervention, others are hunched right over their desks. There are looks of determination, fear, and the occasional wry smile as we briefly make eye contact. There is near silence, papers turn, pencils scratch and feet shift on the floor, but there is no talking.
When you walk into an exam room, prepared or not, you know that in the next two hours your work will be judged. If you have a good day and a following wind, your exam mark may raise your over-all grade but you know that it is more likely to go the other way. On the up side, when the hours are over, so is the course and in June that means summer break!
Many of our life evaluations, however, do not take place in a classroom and are not neatly scheduled and limited to a two-hour block of time. We are often not even aware that we are being tested; that a customer is forming judgments about our competence or friendliness; that a student is deciding whether or not we are trustworthy enough to ask for help; total strangers may be deciding whether we are doing a good job raising our children. We will never know the results of most of these tests. Unless a customer goes to complain or compliment we won’t realize that they don’t return to the store or that they avoid our check-out. The student who decides against us will just walk away, and we almost certainly will not hear the strangers opinion of our parenting.
Whether or not we have any right to evaluate the people we meet and work with, we do it naturally. Unless you are a person’s supervisor or they do something hurtful to you, I see no reason that we should share negative feedback with them. Neither do we need to share with a person the nasty thing we heard someone else say about them, though we might want to defend a friend with the person doing the criticism. What I think we do need to be doing, however, is telling people when we think positive things about them, or when we hear someone else making a positive comment about them.
We don’t hear enough positive feedback. Certainly we don’t tend to give ourselves positive feedback, we tend to focus on our flaws and our failures. This does little good, and contributes a great deal to our level of stress. It may be as little as a smile or the like button on Face Book, or as big as nominations for awards or letters of thanks, but we need to praise more, encourage more, love more!
Posted in Reflections
Tagged choices, compliment, distractions, evaluation, exam, feedback, high school, improvement, love, prayer, quiet, stress, students, survival, teachers, test, testing, time, worry