In theory, volunteers and staff should be collaborators or partners in helping to meet the goals and mission of the organization. All too often, we fall short of this ideal. To promote a greater harmony and a higher level of collaborative performance, I submit the following set of questions for you and your volunteers to explore together:
Is There Clarity Before We Proceed?
Are we in agreement on what is most important?
What is at stake? Why is the work of this committee or task force important? What are the consequences if either volunteers and staff fail to do their job?
Do we (i.e., volunteers and staff) have the information and facts necessary to make good decisions?
Have both volunteers and staff had the chance to say, “These are the major questions and concerns I have going forward”?
Do We Know What Success Looks Like?
Does everyone buy into it?
Do volunteers and staff share the same vision? Is everyone committed to it?
Can we articulate our goal with with the following statement? “By next year, this committee must accomplish _____. The reason we must accomplish this is because _____ ! “(i.e., a reason that is compelling and motivating to volunteers and staff)
Do We Have a “Hit-The-Ground-Running Action Plan?”
Can we turn words into action?
Do we have an action plan with no more than a few priorities/tasks?
Do the action steps in our plan meet the criteria below?
Are there clear role definitions among volunteers and staff? What is it that only the volunteers can and should do? What is it that only staff can and should do? What are the areas where volunteers and staff need to collaborate? Is it clear how this collaboration will be managed?
You will notice the important phrase here is, "Volunteers and staff." On second thought, let's make the phrase, "Volunteers AND staff."