September 8, 2013

Speaking Out and Taking Action

Posted in Best Practice, Managers Matter, Professional Development tagged , , , , at 4:06 am by Sue Hine

backhanded lessonYes, that’s what you do.  That’s the big task for a manager of volunteers.  Advocating for volunteers they call it, every day, all the time.  Being the go-between, riding the boundary between paid staff and the freely-given time of willing volunteers, negotiating your way inside the strata and up and down the silos of the organisation.

You can do it in the nicest possible way.  You can find ways to be creative in the roles for volunteers.  You can get stroppy and assertive and pushy.  You might get devious and just go your own way with volunteers.  Or end up with a battered brow.

When a body gets crushed into a corner, when nobody wants to know the value of volunteer work and their contribution to the organisation, and when your efforts to make a real difference to the volunteer programme are ignored – what’s there to do except give up, resign, go somewhere else?

I have become a broken record over the past couple of years, bleating on about best practice and promoting a volunteer programme, resources available for managers of volunteers, a survival kit, professional development and what volunteers appreciate.  I have repeated a mantra learned from experience many years ago: If you do not take care of yourself you cannot look after others. 

Here is a shorthand version of survival strategies:

  • Identify allies within the organisation and build good relationships
  • Work up a supportive network in the community
  • Look at what Volunteer Centres can offer
  • Find a mentor or mentoring group you can join, or take up formal supervision
  • Identify learning needs and go find appropriate training

All of this is saying You do not have to go it alone.

And do not live in hope everything will get better in time.  The time to take action is when the niggles and doubts begin, not months down the track when you have lost all enthusiasm for the job.  Work up an action plan for change, and do it!

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