Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Wrong Way to Recruit Volunteers

Here's the wrong way to recruit volunteers.
Step One: Post the Following Announcement: We are looking for volunteers to serve on the XYZ committee. Please Join.

Step Two:  Take all comers.
The problem with this approach is, quite simply, a lack of quality control.
The Three Golden Rules of Volunteer Recruitment

Instead, consider The Three Golden Rules of Volunteer Recruitment:
  1. Make clear the "stakes of winning." People are motivated by meaningful challenges. Take care to articulate why a particular volunteer assignment constitutes a challenge that deserves a member's personal time and commitment (i.e.., it's not just a committee assignment, it's an adventure!).
  2. Carefully match the strengths/talents/experiences of the volunteers to the nature of the assignment. Research on performance in the workplace shows the importance of matching people's strength to the tasks they are assigned. The same is true for volunteers.
  3. Be prepared to spend the time necessary to get the right volunteers. Think "Return on Investment" - the time you spend on this will pay off in good work.
And here's a final idea: consider asking prospective volunteers to submit proposals on why they would be a good fit for the assignment. It sends a message that you are expecting great things from your volunteers.

'nuff said!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When Volunteers Criticize: Beware of Emotional Triggers


In a prior post, When a Volunteer is Cruel to Staff, I discussed the most difficult of volunteers. When staff encounters harsh criticism and feels disrespected it leads to emotions such as anger and frustration. This raises the question: How does one respond when emotionally triggered? One can learn to speak skillfully when confronted by such as person. Here are two approaches to use in such a situation:

Using these techniques, and training your volunteers to use them, can significantly reduce tension and conflicts.

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Need help building a productive partnership with your volunteers or chapters? Give me a call!

Monday, December 3, 2012

How to Get Better Feedback from Volunteers

Let's suppose you want to get meaningful feedback from your volunteers; the kind of insights that will help staff improve their performance in support of the volunteers. So you ask, "How can we improve?" In response, you often receive comments that are so vague they fail to be of much use. 

The "More? Less? Better? Different?" approach

The goal is to elicit feedback that is specific enough to be actionable. That's where the "More? Less? Better? Different?" approach comes in. It will help volunteers think about their experiences and articulate their feedback in a manner useful to staff.

Begin by asking the volunteer, "Think about a specific area that has major impact on your experience as a volunteer. Now think about what feedback you might give to staff regarding that." Next, ask the following to engage the volunteer in a dialogue.
  • Is something you want more of from staff? 
  • Is there something you want us to do less of? 
  • Is this a specific area where we can do a better job? 
  • Or is there something new or different we should be doing in support of the volunteers?"

The Bottom Line: This approach makes it easier to have a dialogue with volunteers and to probe for useful ideas. Good luck!

P.S. This approach also works with chapters.

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