| ENGAGING & MANAGING VOLUNTEERS
~ June 2010 ~
FEEDBACK STATEMENTS THAT ARE NOT USEFUL
MENTORING: THE VOLUNTEER MIDDLE MANAGER
The number of people willing to commit to long term service in an volunteer program is dwindling, despite the fact that most volunteer programs are awash in those who want to volunteer short term or episodically. Those who are willing to commit to long term service can be groomed for the role of middle manager. The volunteer administrator manages those who manage other volunteers.
Sometimes you can recruit people with extensive supervisor experience and re-tool their skills to work with an unpaid work team (never take a person who has only managed paid staff and have them manage volunteers without some training—not fair to them and not fair to the volunteers). These middle management volunteers can be trained to do tasks that are done by the paid staff, thus freeing the paid staff to do other tasks.
These volunteers need training on working with volunteers, but the most ideal training is to mentor them. The wisdom of the manager of volunteers cannot be beat for conveying the most important concepts of working with an unpaid work team.
Consider yourself a co-learner with the volunteer
Expect to gain as much from the volunteer as you provide to them
Consider the volunteer a colleague who can provide feedback on how to do things better
Listen more than talk
Maintain confidentiality with the person; it builds a trusting relationship
Try to avoid pushing or criticizing.
When there are mistakes, communicate to identify solutions
Have clear expectations and write them down
Train with small amounts of information
Avoid information “dumps” or “over-load”
Be honest about the challenges that you faced when you started. Talk about how you handled it, even if it was a failure
Talk through your thinking processes and analyze together
Set dates and times to meet
Encourage observation of you at work or in meetings
Share and demonstrate techniques and approaches
Find the volunteer’s strengths. Work out from those skills.
Build in activities with likely successful outcomes early in the mentoring process.
Keep the focus on the plan and the expectations.
Give the volunteer a small size notebook and encourage them to use it for questions as they are encountered.
Tune in to the volunteers stress level. Try to reduce it.
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