So far in this series we have seen how fulfilment, satisfaction and motivation are key aspects of serving, particularly in a ‘volunteer’ (unpaid) capacity. But, just as in a paid job, management and accountability are essential for achieving satisfactory outcomes these are also true for the ‘volunteer’. So what are some of the key management or leadership features that will produce good results and a happy team?
Although a job description sounds a bit formal for a volunteer position its purpose is the same as for a paid role – a clarity of expectation. As leaders it can be very frustrating if we delegate a job and then find that it has not been completed to a satisfactory standard or in the way we had intended. Whose fault is that? Ours! There will be a direct correlation between the detail with which we spell out what we are expecting, be it an individual task or a total job role, and fulfilment of our expectations. It is frustrating for both parties if, when, say, a task has been completed the ‘manager’ is clearly not satisfied, even if the one doing the task thinks he or she has done a really good job.
When appointing staff I liked to define a job profile and then ask the new staff member to write their suggested detailed job description. If I prescribed too tightly what was wanted in the way of practice I would have been imposing my thoughts too strongly on someone whom I had appointed as they had the gifting that I did not have – that was why I had employed them! Because they are gifted they will think of things I would never have thought of. It also helps bring ‘ownership’ to the role.
It is then important to discuss and agree this job description in order to be sure that the mutual expectations are the same. This also applies to the ‘volunteer’ role. There is little benefit in my creating a team of children’s workers and then telling them how to do it. They are the experts; I am not. But the broad goals and expectations must be agreed.
For how long?
When a staff member is appointed a contract will state the length of the contract and the ways in which it can be terminated by either party. Clearly a ‘volunteer’ post differs, but the general principles are the same. Some suggested time frame can be very helpful. Include a trial period when both parties can see if things are progressing well. Make it clear that, after that, there will be at least an annual review when someone can walk away from the role without any sense of failure or having let anyone down. Remember, people are giving their time freely and this can impinge on other aspects of life eg family time. People should not feel that if they volunteer they have been handed a life sentence and will be expected to continue to serve in a particular role until the Lord comes again!
Next time we will look at accountability and feedback