Last post, I talked about building a good team and gave you some tips for setting the team up for success by way of rules of engagement and being not only the leader but also a good team member--the type of team member you expect others to be. Today we talk volunteers. Working with volunteers is different from working with employees. Motivations are different when someone is volunteering vs. getting paid.
I have served as a volunteer and a leader for years in various organizations, at different levels and for a bunch of different reasons. As a result, these tips have been tried and tested by yours truly. There are tips in here not only for those who lead volunteers, but for you who volunteer. Please share your experiences as a volunteer or volunteer leader. I don’t know it all and the idea is to build effective resources for all of you/all of us to use.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for you as you move forward in your efforts to make the world a better place through your service.
Get the most out of your volunteer force. Follow these simple tips:
It may all sound like common sense, but I promise, I have fallen into each and every trap on the don’t side as both a volunteer and a leader. I have also experienced the good from all of the ideas in the do side.
What have you experienced as a volunteer or volunteer leader? What is ONE thing you wish you had done differently or would have made your volunteer experience better? Volunteer your advice--please and thank you.
Building the ideal team is challenging, but like most things, taking time to do things right in the beginning will often lighten your load later. What should you consider when building a team? There are a number of factors. However, I have found the following to be key:
PERSONALITY VS. SKILL
We all want a team of people that we like, get along with and with whom we enjoy working. That being said, your best friend or colleague may not be the best person for your team. When building a team, do your best to be objective about an individual’s skills and not whether or not they will give you a good laugh during a meeting. Let’s face it, we all bring a personality to the table--yes, even you. Sometimes those personalities may be difficult. However, if the individual’s skills will make the team stronger and more effective/efficient, that’s who you want on the team. That being said--a difficult personality should not be allowed to disrupt work or make the rest of the team miserable. That’s why the second key is--well--key.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
After you have created your dream team of talented, qualified and valued team members, you must establish your rules of engagement. These are your procedures and policies for meetings, accountability for tasks assigned, rewards and/or celebrations for achievements and milestones, and what disciplinary actions will be taken should they become necessary. This should be the priority topic for your first team meeting. I recommend bringing your list of ideas to the table and be willing to explain your reasoning for those ideas. However, make sure the team has a say in how things will work, too. It is important that you have buy-in from the team, and if they have a hand in creating the rules of engagement, they will be more likely to operate within the established parameters and enjoy the rewards. This will also help drive home the next key--everyone has a voice.
Your team must understand that they have a valued voice. Their ideas and opinions matter. Sometimes they will be good. Sometimes they won’t. Sometimes they will be in alignment with yours. Sometimes they won’t. Sometimes the other members will agree with them. Sometimes they won’t. However, they must be heard and valued, not dismissed, trivialized or devalued. Depending on the size of your team, you can decide how you want to make sure everyone has their chance to speak and that the meeting does not become monopolized by the more vocal members. Consider these tools:
Have a meeting moderator responsibility that could be and should be rotated among the members of the team. That member is responsible for acknowledging and creating a speaking order for members to share and speak; timing the members (the time limits will be established in the rules of engagement); and keeping the meeting on track in accordance with the agenda.
By the way--always have an agenda--even if it is a small meeting with only a few members. Never meet just to meet. If there’s no agenda--use an email or telecon.
If a meeting moderator position doesn’t suit your needs, consider a speaking stick, gavel, rock, stuffed animal, something that designates who “has the floor” at the meeting. Other members must wait until they possess the designated object before speaking.
Designate a team member and rotate the responsibility for taking notes so everyone’s ideas can be captured and addressed.
Another side note--rotating the responsibilities allows everyone to share the responsibility and understand the difficulty of the assigned tasks. After everyone has a chance to serve in the role, if there are those that enjoy the role more than others or are better at it than others, you can have the same person perform the task, but share the experience before making a final determination.
Follow the rules of engagement as the leader of the team and the meeting. This is one component to being the team member you want others to be.
BE THE LEADER - AND TEAM MEMBER
In order to be an effective leader, you must be an effective team member. This means you have to exhibit the highest standards when abiding by the rules of engagement. If you expect everyone to be on time to a meeting--you have to be early. If you expect others to listen respectfully and not interrupt, you must do the same. If you want your team to stick to an agenda, you have to provide an agenda and stick to it. Beyond having high standards and following rules, as a leader you must be able to accept and act upon criticisms and suggestions. Remember, your team members aren’t calling your baby ugly. It’s their baby too. You aren’t perfect, none of us are. Remember you invited these people to be part of your team for a reason. Hopefully that reason is because they have strengths in an area where you may not.
Building a strong team can be difficult. However, if you do it right in the beginning, you will find that your project and organization will be better for it. Working with other people isn’t always easy, but if done right, it can be rewarding and effective. As Henry Ford once said “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Here’s to your success!
It has been said that the one thing in life that is certain is change. Some people love it. Some people hate it. I happen to enjoy change and embrace it. That being said, sometimes a lot of change, all at once, can be difficult to manage. For instance:
Recently I suggested to my husband that we leave our home in the California Sierra Nevada Foothills and move to Texas to be near his family, and allow him to focus on a brand new startup he was launching. Read that sentence carefully. I suggested we: (a) Leave his full time, well paid job, with benefits; (b) Leave our lovely home in a great neighborhood where we lived alone; (c) Leave an area where we had both built lives, made friends, and were involved in the community. All in exchange for (a) Selling most everything we owned including our furniture and household items; (b) Packing up all that was left into a shipping container and the back of our Subaru; (c) Moving into a bedroom in his youngest brother's house with is wife; (d) Working on this startup that has no certainty of a future and live off of our savings; (e) Hoping that we get the new startup to profitable status sooner rather than later. Yep. Lots and lots of change. There are days I wonder what I was thinking when *I* made the suggestion. On the other hand...
There are days when I celebrate the new beginnings and the opportunities to reinvent ourselves and our future. This affords us the opportunity to build something new together. It provides me a chance to really jump out and fulfill my long-time dream of becoming a blogger, podcaster, trainer, and professional public speaker. I am exploring co-authoring a book and developing a program with a friend that will give us tools to educate and help others. As if all of that isn't enough, we get to spend time with my husband's ageing parents, his brothers and their wives and watch our nephews grow into amazing young men.
So yes, it is a lot of change. Yes, it can be stressful. Yes, there are days when I wonder what I have done. However, today--and most days--I celebrate these opportunities and the challenges that come with them.
From here forward, I will be using this blog to share some ideas on a number of subjects including team building and management, conflict resolution, challenges in starting new businesses and breathing life into businesses and projects that have gone a little stale.
How do you deal with change? What challenges does change present to you? Do you love it or hate it?
I look forward to your comments, your questions and your input. Until next time...