Part two of a series. Also see part one The Difference between Managing Paid Staff and Volunteers
- You could end up doing a less effective job in contributing to your organizations’ mission than you otherwise could
- You could be contributing the challenges that are holding back the sector as a whole
- You could be limiting your own career growth
You could be doing a less effective job in contributing to your organization’s mission than you otherwise could. The goal of a manager of volunteer resources (or anyone who is charged with the management of a volunteer program) can be expressed as to create an environment where the organization’s volunteers contribute the maximum amount that they are willing and happy to toward the attainment of the organization’s goals. This compares very closely to how a well managed staff is led. Would you not agree that the job of a manager (of paid staff) can most basically be stated as to create an environment where the business’s staff contribute the maximum amount that they are willing and happy to toward the attainment of the business’s goals. Just like unsatisfied staff might be profitable in the short term but not in the long term, unsatisfied volunteers won’t stay around, won’t work as hard and won’t put as much care into their work as satisfied volunteers. Whether it is related to volunteers or paid staff, a manager’s job is to get the most out of the people they are responsible for managing. Leaders of volunteers who lose sight of this core purpose can end up creating volunteer programs that are more focused on the needs of the volunteers than on the needs of the organization. In some cases this manifests itself in a volunteer program that is more of a social circle than an effective input of human energy. Leaders of volunteers who lose sight of this core purpose can end up keeping volunteers around even though their presence detracts from the accomplishment of the organization goals. This could be in obvious ways such as poorly representing the organization or faulty work. It could be more subtle ways such as wasting some of a manager’s time which could have been applied to mission attainment tasks. Leaders of volunteers who lose sight of this core purpose can end up holding volunteers back from contributing at their highest level. Too often the line that is drawn between what a volunteer can and cannot do is not drawn in the best interest of the organization. When it comes to the management of paid staff there is an obvious benefit to creating an environment that does not limit the significance of contribution an employee makes. That the volunteer is deprived of having a more meaningful experience is only part of the problem here. The organization also loses potential volunteer contributions. You could be contributing the challenges that are holding back the sector. Unfortunately we have all heard an expression along the lines of “they’re just volunteers”. The more that this phase mirrors the way Managers of Volunteer resources lead their volunteers, the more the job becomes Manger of “just volunteers”. As long as that is the case, there will be challenges in becoming included strategically in management circles, there will be challenges in attracting the brightest new talent and there will be challenges getting the resources to best to the job. You could be limiting your own career growth. The accomplishments of your volunteers are your accomplishments when it comes to your annual review or next job. One look at the resume of anyone whose has had a successful record of managing people makes this very obvious. It is filled with phases such as “led a team that …”. The team’s successes become the team manager’s successes. The more your team accomplishes toward the organization’s mission, the better you have done your job and the better you look on paper when it comes time to ask for a raise or look for new job.