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ENGAGING & MANAGING VOLUNTEERS

On this page are ideas to help you work more efficiently with volunteers. There are tips on recruiting, engaging, coordinating, and managing the work of volunteers.

~February 2010~

NOT ALL GROUPS ARE TEAMS:  HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE

When people work together in a group it is often referred to as a team.  Teams have some special characteristics and should not be confused with a working group.  Those who lead a working group need to understand its characteristics, as do those who are in either a work group or a team.  Managers, who frequently work with people in groups, need to understand the characteristics and alter his/her supervision and management style accordingly.

Working Group

*Strong, clearly focused leader 

*Individual accountability

*The group’s purpose is the same as the broader organizational mission

*Individual work-products

*Efficient meetings

*Measures its effectiveness indirectly by its influence on others

*Discusses, decides, and delegates

Team

*Shared leadership roles

*Individual and mutual accountability

*A team’s purpose is on something that is specific and chosen by the team.

*Collective work-products

*Encourages open-ended discussion and active problem-solving meetings

*Measures performance directly by assessing collective work-products

*Discusses, decides, and does real work together

Rejuvenate and Take Care of Yourself

Read Melissa Heilein's essay on how to stay at the top of your game!

 


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VOLUNTEER POSITIONS DESCRIPTIONS: A BASIC TO SUCCESS

Position descriptions seems such an old fashioned notion to experienced managers of volunteers.  They are, however, essential to success and still one of the things organizations frequently overlook.  Why do volunteers repeatedly say, “No one told me what to do.  I was clueless until I got on the job.”  Others are so blind-sided by expectations he/she will just not show up again.  To avoid this problem, even the smallest volunteer program needs descriptions of what volunteers are expected to have in the way of qualifications and duties.

Creating high-quality position descriptions is a good job for a small ad hoc volunteer committee.  It can be staffed by the manager of volunteers or a leadership volunteer who works closely with the manager of volunteers between meetings.

The Position Description Worksheet attached to this article provides a worksheet that is the precursor to an attractive and grammatically correct document that can be distributed to volunteers and/or posted on the organization’s Web site.  Open the form. PDF What follows is a description of the information needed for each category of the position description.

Keep in mind that a position description for a long-term continuous job needs more detail; while the description of an episodic job is rarely longer than two or three sentences, but should include all the elements in the position description.

Begin by downloading the form. Then read the descriptions below of what to do at each step.

Title:  Make the title catchy and interesting, whether is a short term or long term position.
Supervisor:  Whom does this person report to?  Avoid names, use titles; supervisor of accounting department; chairperson of clean-up committee for auction
Major Responsibilities:  This is a list of duties.  For a long-term position this might be lengthy.  Episodic position might say “Clean-up auction hall—chairs, tables, floors.”
Minimum Qualifications:  Volunteers need to know what qualifications make them eligible for this job.  Long-term volunteers might need to be over 18 or 21, have a valid driver’s license, or a car.  Episodic volunteers might need special equipment, steel-toed shoes, leather work gloves, etc.
Time Commitment:  Be specific and do not gloss over the real requirements.
Training Requirements:  Be specific, but indicate flexibility.  Get as much training material online as you can for  long term or episodic volunteers.  Again, be honest.
Benefits to the Volunteer:  Do not tell volunteers what he/she is doing for you.  Tell them how doing this work will be a benefit to them.  College credit, enjoying the great outdoors, personal satisfaction in changing a live through tutoring.  Ask other volunteers to tell you what their service provides in the way of benefits. 


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