Monday, January 17, 2011

Quit Wasting Your Volunteers’ Talents

“Actually, I’m a member. I’m just doing this
until I find a volunteer opportunity that suits my talents.”

Is Your Association a Talent Wasteland?

“Do your members have talent?”

“Of course!” you are likely to respond. Okay, but let me ask this: “How are you utilizing those talents? How do you draw out the best in your volunteers?”  What would be your response?

Unfortunately, many associations fail to make good use of their members’ talent; volunteer opportunities are frequently a poor match for the talent pool – skills, experience and insights are wasted. To put it bluntly: some associations are a talent wasteland in regards to their members.

A Lesson from Great Managers

Let’s back up a moment and consider the results of a study by the Gallup Organization (as outlined in First Break All the Rules). They studied 80,000 managers in 400 companies to identify the characteristics of a great manager. This is what they saw in the great managers: 
  • When selecting someone, they select for talent, not simply experience
  • When setting expectations, they define the right outcomes, not the steps
  • When motivating someone, they focus on their strengths, not eliminating weaknesses.
  • When developing someone, they help him find the right fit, not just the next rung on the ladder.

Clearly, these lessons are relevant to volunteer management. – a different model

 What’s needed is the following shift in mindset about volunteers:

As an example, as well as inspiration, for how to put this new mindset to work, let’s look at the start-up website, Their tagline is, Changing the way people volunteer. Look at their Open Projects page; you will see the openings are listed in a way that attracts people based on their talents. This approach fits nicely with the findings of the Gallup study.

Is this how you go about recruiting volunteers in your association? If not, imagine a listing of volunteer opportunities on your association website, a la, that targets your members by talent.

‘nuff said!

Related article: The Strength & Passion Interview

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