43% of workers say they do not feel valued
by their employers, according to CareerBuilder.com. Is your supervisor
melting down and making unrealistic demands? Here are some tips:
Find out what is going on.
Get the facts. Is this a boss who is micromanaging and controlling?
Prove you are capable. Ask for complete control over a small project
and then do it 110% right. Then ask for another larger project and
do it 115% right. Over time the supervisor will see you can do it
and give you the autonomy you deserve.
What if your boss is one of the laid-back, "Whatever" type
of managers, or cannot make a decision. Guidance is the answer. No
open-ended questions. Ask for specifics. Give the person choices and
wait to get a good answer.
Maybe your boss is a non-manager? You know: the kind that's indecisive,
hesitant, and vague. You need to guide this type of boss. Instead
of giving open-ended questions, offer answer choices. Be specific
with your requests.
Brag a bit.
Everyone wishes the supervisor or manager would notice and praise
good work, but it often doesn't happen. In busy nonprofit organizations
and volunteer programs there are never enough hours in the day to
keep tabs on everything. This means you need to be sure the supervisor
knows the quality of work you are doing.
Do you have an annual plan for the volunteer program? If not, you
should. That plan is developed by you, discussed with your supervisors,
and he/she signs off on the plan for the coming year.
Then meet with your supervisor on a quarterly basis and provide an
up-date on the plan. Be sure to emphasize the good things going on
where your leadership has made the difference. Don't neglect problems
areas, but accentuate the positive.
Have regular meetings.
Insist on a regular schedule of meetings with the employer. 15 minutes
once a week for a "check-in" is not too much to ask for.
Try to arrange at a time when the person is in the office and not
likely to be called away. Give the individual a file folder with your
name on it and a pack of post-it notes. Do the same for yourself only
with the supervisor's name. When you think of something during the
week, restrain yourself from interrupting the person and put a note
in the folder for the regular meeting. Ask the person to do the same
This saves unwanted meetings and interruptions and makes those short
meetings important. What if you stumble on a topic that takes more
than 15 minutes? Set another time to discuss the really tough issues.
If you have an agreement for 15 minutes and every time you meet it
is 45 minutes the supervisors is likely to cancel future meetings
to protect the time he/she needs to get work done. Make that agreement
Use meetings to talk about your program, but be sure to ask what
the supervisor wants. Get an idea of their needs, career or organizational
goals and what you can do to support them.
Assume an attitude of learning.
Everyone in the world has a purpose, if only to serve as a bad example.
And workers are foolish who ignore the opportunity to learn from their
supervisor or manager.
Is the individual incredibly supportive? Figure out how he/she does
it, not just for you, but also for everyone else in the organization.
Is the person non-responsive to others? How do they do that? How do
you respond to others? Is it too much, too little, and who is the
It also might be the time to do some mirror gazing. Are you sure
you are doing what is needed? What could you be doing differently?
What you are experiencing will not last forever, so take advantage
of what you can learn from it.
Is it time to leave?
There comes a time when you need take a hard look in the mirror,
as well as at that supervisor in order to see if it is time to move
on. If you are dealing with a serious issue such as harassment, bullying
and the like, engage the managers in the organization in trying to
solve the program. Human resource people could be your best friends.
If this is simply a mismatch of personalities, get a professional
portfolio ready. You need examples of your workflyers or brochures
developed, Web pages designed, newsletters produced, applications,
screening process, recognition events. Pictures of volunteers and
events are nice too. Nothing will impress another employer like a
record of your skills at managing volunteers.
Enlist your colleagues who manage volunteers to tell you about openings
in your community. Talk to the leaders of organizations where you
think you might like to work. It is all about networking. Consider
a headhunting firm.
If this is a career development issue, and you feel you will not
be punished for asking, enlist the help of your supervisor in making
a plan to move to the next level in your career plans.
Washington State University offers a Volunteer Management
Certification Program through the Internet. Individuals around the world
can earn a certificate in managing or coordinating volunteers, without
leaving home. For more information, visit Volunteer Today's Portal site,
Internet Resources. Look for the
Washington State University listing. There is a hot link to their Web