The Best Practices of High Performing Volunteer Organizations
Unless you've been in a coma your entire life, chances are good that you've been a volunteer of some kind in any number of non-profit organizations. Simply put, you've been drawn to a noble cause and have pitched in.
That's the good news.
The not-so-good news is that many volunteer organizations, without even knowing it, sabotage the value their volunteers bring to the table.
I've recently done some informal research on the subject and have identified 27 "best practices" high performing volunteer organizations abide by. Take a peek. Then, volunteer to share the list with the leaders of whatever volunteer organizations you would like to see succeed at a higher level. Can't hurt. Can only help.
1. Clearly (and often) communicate the vision.
2. Provide clearly written job descriptions.
3. Take the time to authentically welcome volunteers and orient them to their new role.
4. Ensure that volunteers know exactly what's expected of them.
5. Start new volunteers off small. Don't scare them off with too huge of a commitment too soon.
6. Keep the workloads manageable.
7. Communicate progress being made on a regular basis. Volunteers need to see that their efforts are having impact.
8. When there are setbacks or breakdowns, learn from them -- and share your learnings with others.
9. Be prepared so you don't waste people's time.
10. Create a trusting environment that ensures open communication, teamwork, and respect for diversity.
11. Keep everyone on your team informed of the inevitable changes (i.e. direction, policy, timelines, goals, personnel etc.)
12. Provide opportunities for volunteers to switch to different roles they might find more enjoyable.
13. Give and receive feedback (both formally and informally).
14. Provide opportunities for volunteers to learn and grow.
15. Honor your commitments (and if, for any reason, you cannot -- renegotiate them with volunteers).
16. Give volunteers the opportunity to take breaks from the project.
17. Make sure volunteers know they can say "no" if they are overextended or overwhelmed.
18. Enthusiastically acknowledge successes, especially "small wins").
19. Be kind and respectful in all your interactions.
20. Do your best to make sure everyone is enjoying the process of participating.
21. Respond to input, questions, and feedback as soon as possible. Don't leave people hanging.
22. Build some interpersonal "chat time" into your meetings and conference calls.
23. Teach volunteers, in leadership positions. how to delegate.
24. Even when you are stressed or behind deadline, take the time to make sure your emails have a feeling of warmth to them.
25. Fill out Project Briefs on all projects you are inviting volunteer participation -- and share them with volunteers.
25. Conduct exit interviews whenever a volunteer ends their participation or is asked to step aside.
26. Share your learnings from the exit interviews with other managers.
27. Follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.November 30, 2011
All Hands on Deck!
Look around you. This is not the time for lone wolves, closet geniuses, unaffiliated mavericks, out-of-orbit freelancers, hidden agendas, superstars, cranky collaborators, or hyper independent dreamers. Sorry. Wrong decade. Now is the time for alliances, partnerships, collaborations, and team chemistry. If you are trying to "get something done" and it just ain't happening, pause for a moment and take a good look at how you are operating. If you don't have a team of committed collaborators, allies, and partners in place, it will be very difficult to manifest the inspired results you are imagining. Make sense?
What's one thing you can do this week to build your team?
Hark, the Online Angels Sing!
What can you do to create extraordinary results with a committed group of online creatives? Poets? Artists? Musicians? Dancers? Programmers?March 26, 2011
VIRTUAL TEAMWORK CARDS
If you are looking for a simple way to improve teamwork, click on the "We're All In This Together" banner in the sidebar.
What you'll get is a series of 53 Teamwork Cards newly published by the writers of this blog, Idea Champions.
Each card describes a quality of a high performing team and then poses a question for reflection.
The cards spark dialogue, insight, and the kind of positive changes that increase a team's ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible.October 20, 2009
Click, Connect, and Collaborate!
Here's something I find odd: Soulful, loving, conscious people often find it difficult collaborating with others.
The challenge of being on a team, somehow, pushes buttons. Patience wears thin. Judgment abounds. Trust goes out the window.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
If you're looking for a way to raise the bar for teamwork, all you need to do is click here or scroll down the page and click on TEAMWORK CARDS (in the sidebar).January 24, 2009
Raising the Bar for Teamwork
If you are committed to accomplishing extraordinary results, chances are good that you will need to collaborate with others.
Your ideas and dedication, no matter how wonderful they might be, will never be enough by themselves. It takes a village.
Most people's experience of being on a team is less than ideal, filled with frustration, power struggles, and the belief that it's just not worth the effort.
OK. Those days are over. No matter how disappointing your experience of teamwork may have been in the past, it's never too late to turn things around. And it all begins with AWARENESS -- tuning into what's actually going on with your team.
Intrigued? If so, click here and take Heart of the Matter's online TEAM REALITY CHECK poll. In two weeks, I'll post the results here -- a way to spark new possibilities about what you and the rest of us can do differently to radically increase the effectiveness of our teams.