3 Needs of a Volunteer: Coach

13 Feb

Part 3 of 3: Coach

Volunteering should never be lonely work. Regularly check in with your volunteers. “How’s it coming? Do you need anything? Have we told you what a good job you’re doing?” This is where you communicate the Vision talked about way back at the beginning of this article. This is where you find out if they need any added training or tools, if the workload is realistic and balanced. These conversations are your biggest listening tool and you need to pay careful attention to what you’re hearing.Most accidents are preventable, right? If you’re not listening, you will be the last to find out about the blow up.

Staying in regular contact with your volunteers should double as quality control. When done properly quality control is actually a huge encouragement to both the checker and the volunteer. If you’re checking each completed task you get to see all the awesome things that are being done well and you get to praise the volunteers for it. But, there is another side to quality control that’s not as fun. It’s tempting for organizations to assign the ‘nice work’ of praising to the volunteer coordinator and the control side to someone else in the organisation (usually the coordinator’s boss). This is also known as good cop/bad cop and will be guaranteed to make everyone uncomfortable. Not only do volunteers get the feeling that they’re being sent to the office, it also sends a signal that the volunteer coordinator is incompetent and not trusted by the rest of the organization.

This may sound like a lot of things to make happen at once (“I’m supposed to coach the vision while making sure everything fits?”), but implementing one makes it easier to implement the others. Another tool that helps is a good old-fashioned intake interview (look for that post soon!). Don’t stress yourself out too much because volunteers are the best of your community. Their patience is nigh to boundless, so they get used and abused a lot. They’ll be thrilled to just see you making an effort.

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