Have you ever found yourself in a role that is not what you expected? Perhaps you were sold on it being “not that big of a job.” Or maybe you were so honored that they asked you to take on the role that you said yes before you really knew what you were getting yourself into! Either way, it’s a recipe for disaster in the world of volunteer leadership. There should be no surprises in world of volunteer leadership!
I recently facilitated a leadership board retreat where new members on the team were unsure what the role entailed. Many didn’t know how they ended up on the team. Because of their belief in the mission, they showed up ready to work. There was a lot of assuming until someone asked, “What does it mean to be a member of this team?” Let’s pause and have a conversation about it.
As staff, we need to make a big deal of the selection process. Every volunteer who is selected to serve in a leadership role should receive that congratulatory call (not email!) along with a brief conversation about the commitment and expectations. This verbal agreement will ensure you know that they know what is expected and everyone is on the same page. It also gives you an opportunity to set benchmarks to ensure the project is on track without appearing to micro-manage them. Clear expectations just make for a smoother journey down the road of volunteer leadership.
So next time you have the opportunity to “promote” volunteers to a leadership role, bring out the fanfare. Let them know how they were selected, what is expected and what tools, resources and support you’ll be providing to help them thrive. That little effort will pave the way for a solid commitment from the start. And they'll be proud of what they've gotten themselves into!