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I need help and advice please! Managing volunteers - do you have experience?

(10 Posts)
ForgetMeKnots Thu 27-Feb-14 23:03:30

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

AgentProvocateur Thu 27-Feb-14 23:17:30

I have managed employees and volunteers, and I found volunteers far trickier. Many volunteered because they had "issues" that prevented them from working (not a heritage setting - that may be more retired people with time on their hands) or because they had previously been supported by the organisation's volunteers.

I offered monthly support and supervision one-to-ones, but some became very needy and reliant on me - I think they didn't have anyone else to talk to. It's important to keep clear boundaries, and treat them as you would an employee - ie let them know what is non-negotiable - but also be cognizant of the fact that they're giving up their own time.

Normal work policies should apply - non discrimination, bullying etc, and expectations re timekeeping, delivering sessions etc should be clearly stated at the outset. Good luck!

Helpyourself Thu 27-Feb-14 23:29:22

What experience do you have of managing people? I'd concentrate on the transferability of those skills. Have you been a volunteer yourself? Emphasise the experience gained there and how you would use that to inform your practice.
As an aside, I've been a volunteer and recognise what AP says about volunteers blush even if you've only managed paid staff OP, you could acknowledge the differences and indicate you're interested into undertaking further training.

HowGoodIsThat Thu 27-Feb-14 23:29:47

Good practice is to have a volunteer agreement in place as a kind if contract. It should set your organisations expectations of that volunteer and what the organisation provides in return. A code of conduct may also be appropriate. Managing volunteers is always tricky. Matching interests to shat you want them to do is helpful both to retain them and to keep them motivated and sometimes to limit the damage! Understanding why they volunteer is very important.

HowGoodIsThat Thu 27-Feb-14 23:31:16

Shat? Sorry about that, new to posting from phone. I clearly have fat fingers and no scanning ability.

ScarletStar Thu 27-Feb-14 23:32:55

I agree about the volunteer contract, that's really important. You might find it useful to make it clear what kind of minimum hours you expect them to keep, in return for good references, opportunities, and not just giving them all the shit jobs no one else wants to do.

BeaWheesht Thu 27-Feb-14 23:47:06

When I managed a team of volunteers I was very friendly and open to a chat anytime, I tried to make sure they knew I was approachable and that they felt at ease with me. Most of them were fab.

We did have one guy who meant well but just did not stick to the rules, these were there because of legalities of fundraising and as annoying as it was we had
To stick to them. I had to have an informal chat with him explaining that we do things this way for a reason and that he could actually cause the charity damage by continuing as he was. I made sure I put it that I knew it was unintentional etc. he didn't stop so I sent a letter saying 'just to clarify what we discussed these are our guidelines because x y z and this will be kept on your volunteer file in case you have any queries and to cover our back . He was fine after that,

My top tips are dont expect too much but don't allow anything which could be damaging to the organisation either, make sure you show gratitude eg calling them if they've been unwell, remembering kids names, just saying thanks and always be approachable.

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 28-Feb-14 07:33:28

My organisation use a lot of volunteers. We have a full induction and training programme for them, I think this is really important to get their buy in.

flowery Fri 28-Feb-14 08:30:02

I imagine an established charity would have a volunteer agreement in place, but even if not, that's something to address while in the role, not to put in an application or interview.

in terms of applications/interviews, I would imagine the most important things to show are that you understand the particular challenges involved in working with volunteers (which may depend on the charity in question and the profile of the volunteer body) and have identified how to address those, combined with general management skills.

Have a google of "challenges managing volunteers" and "tips managing volunteers", which will bring up loads of articles and guidance which will make sure you know about all the peculiarities of volunteer management and will give you ideas on strategies to address them.

FunkyBoldRibena Sat 01-Mar-14 08:32:52

Volunteer management is so much harder than management as they are seen to be doing it out of the good of their hearts when that is often not the case.

Look at Hersey and Blanchard's Situational management model; and at Sorting Categories [different people value different things, one might do it as they are passionate about the subject, one might do it to get out of the house from their family, one might do it because you are the only people that let them do it], find out about all your volunteers and then you can use what you know about them to manage them.

Also, the organisation's safeguarding policy is a useful tool for managing volunteers. You can say they have to do X [prepare their sessions, turn up on time, be friendly] as otherwise it is a safeguarding issue and you have to address it formally [not engaging all learners which could impact their behaviour/something something, not leaving sessions or learners without a responsible person in the room, not being friendly means they don't trust us as an organisation and we are here to do x and y and this could be a safeguarding issue] should be able to address it on an individual supervision or use the policies and procedures to let them know that if it isn't addressed at a personal level informally, then you have no option but to look at a formal sanction which could mean ultimately, not being allowed to volunteer on behalf of your organisation.

And never underestimate the value of the observation, drop in on odd sessions and just observe, and do a formal feedback session and action plan changes that you need into the feedback session.

I prefer 'look, you might not have noticed but we picked up on this, and we need to address it. What has happened to spark this issue, and what are our options and how can we help x and y to happen from here on in?'

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