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VT readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com

~ October 2006 ~

Volunteer Supervision
Volunteer Orientation
Connie’s Fundamental Training Tips

Dear Connie:

Where are some resources (Internet possibly) where I can read up on skills in supervising, not doing everything oneself and giving specific directions without micromanaging? Thank you!


Dear EF:

I believe there are two elements to supervision: the technical side (job descriptions, coaching, communication, etc.) and the personal willingness to "let go" and empower others to be successful (e.g., get the work done!).

On the technical side, there is some very useful information at VolunteerToday in the "Management and Supervision" section. Be sure to do a search of the site on "supervision" and you’ll find many articles, tips, and other useful information. Another good source is Court Appointed Special Advocates, where you'll find a supervision section. Don't miss "7 Deadly Sins of Supervision," by Rick Lynch.

Your role as a supervisor of volunteers is also about leadership, which is a personal quest. There are many good books on supervision and leadership available for sale through the Internet. Check out the publications sections of these sites: Energize, Inc., Volunteer Today, and Jossey-Bass.

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Dear Connie:

I am new to the position of Volunteer Coordinator. I have a large group orientation scheduled for my volunteer drivers. I would like to know what information you feel is important to present. Thank you in advance for any information you may be able to provide.


Dear SW:

As you create your orientation, consider this. Orientation and training are often intertwined and are most effective when organized that way. The purpose of orientation is to provide volunteers with the context within which they'll work. Training is the actual process of instructing volunteers in the specific job-related skills and behaviors that they will need to perform their particular volunteer assignment.

An effective orientation will provide your volunteers with the following types of information:

history of the organization
programs/activities and clientele of the organization
organizational charts of the organization
orientation to the facilities and layout of the organization
general policies and procedures
volunteer management system

Training identifies those skills, knowledge, and behavior that are essential in good job performance. It is practical, experiential, and tailored to the individual needs of the volunteers being trained. Effective training teaches volunteers:

how they are supposed to perform their particular assignment
what they are not supposed to do in their job
what to do if an emergency or unforeseen situation arises

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Dear Connie:

I am preparing to do my first volunteer training. I've written my lesson plan based on my learning objectives. I have my handouts printed and ready to go. Any last minute advice you can give me? Thanks for all your help!


Dear AR:

Congratulations on doing your own "homework" to prepare for your training! Here is some last minute advice that may help you. Good luck!

Connie's Fundamental Training Tips:

÷ Don't talk too much or for too long.
÷ Use Power Point, slides, and/or overheads only after you've practiced using them.
÷ Print in large legible letters on flip charts.
÷ Always bring masking tape and a black marker with you.
÷ Pay attention to what your audience tells you through facial or body "messages."
÷ Open with self-introductions whenever possible so that audience gets to talk first!
÷ Repeat questions from the audience so that everyone hears them.
÷ Always distribute handouts of your information whenever possible.
÷ Stand up straight; don't slouch.
÷ Speak clearly and crisply.
÷ Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

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Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.

Send your questions to Connie at AskConnieP@cs.com.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: 301-530-8299

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