In a previous post (here), I challenged readers to quit wasting their volunteers' talents. Today I would like share with you a fun and valuable ice-breaker exercise you can use at your next board or committee meeting. It's called the Strengths & Passions Introduction (click here to download).
At first glance, it may seems more fun than substantive. Let me assure you, however, there are two powerful concepts, backed by management research, at work here.
Concept #1: Focus on Intrinsic Motivators: In a classic article from Harvard Business Review, One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?, Frederick Herzberg demonstrates that intrinsic motivators (i.e., work that is interesting and challenging) leads to higher performance.
Concept #1: Capitalize on People's Strengths: The Gallop Organization (as outlined in What Great Managers Do), studied 80,000 managers in 400 companies to identify the characteristics of a great manager. A key factor: great managers spent time upfront matching specific job roles or projects to the strength of an employee.
The Strengths & Passions Introduction provides a relaxed way for volunteers to discuss explore what types of roles or projects will be a good fit for them. The discussion that follows from this exercise also provides valuable insights for staff, giving them a better sense of what talents and experiences the volunteers possess, and how best to utilize these.
I created this exercise as a tool to jump start the discussion about the passions and strengths volunteers can bring to the table. I hope you find it valuable.