4 Things Volunteers Wish Leaders Knew: Pt. 2
As a leader it’s so easy to forget what it’s like to be at the bottom. Over the years I’ve often found myself in place of leadership, but recently I’ve spent more time serving our local soccer club and am starting from the ground up. This opportunity is giving me a refreshing reminder of what it’s like to have no idea what’s going on- on a weekly basis. So, I’m sharing 4 things volunteers wish leaders know. Last week I shared the first 2, which are: 1. I don’t care as much as you, but I still care. 2. I probably don’t understand what’s going on. You can catch up here. Below are the final 2 things volunteers wish leaders knew.
3. Please don’t waste my time
Serving our local soccer club is something I squeeze in the small nooks and crannies of free time I have in my life. I do this because I enjoy soccer and I love coaching. I’m glad to offer these small free spaces, but please respect my time. Last minute meeting changes mess with my schedule. Lack of planning starts pushing the bounds of time I’ve allotted to serving soccer.
As leaders we need to remember that our volunteers actually have lives going on outside of “our beloved thing“. If we truly respect them and their lives, then we should make sure we never waste one second of their volunteered time. Our meetings should be planned well in advance, happen when they’re planned, start on time, and especially end on time. If you break this trust and require more of a volunteer’s time and energy than they’ve planned to give you, do not be surprised if they push back and begin reclaiming their time. They could do this by either not showing up, or eventually quitting all together.
4. I’m more capable than you realize
As a leader it often feels easier and safer to hoard all our trust in a small piggy bank in our bedroom, while trying to accomplish everything on our own. We keep information from people because we’re not sure they’d understand. We don’t ask people’s opinions because it adds complication. We don’t ask people to help with projects. We tell ourselves it’s because we don’t want to inconvenience them, but it’s probably because we trust ourselves to do the task more than we would anyone else.
While we’re working ourselves into exhaustion, amazing and talented people sit on the sideline- like middle-schoolers at a school dance waiting to be wanted. I believe everyone wants to find a way to feel useful and valuable. I’ve found that most people feel honored when asked to volunteer for something. By asking them to volunteer- or even lead something, you’re basically saying, “I believe you are a gifted person and I want to entrust you with something valuable because I believe in you.” That feels great!
But, in order to make this happen, we need to trust people with information. We should truly let them know what’s going on. Good volunteers can handle seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly. We need to extend trust and responsibility to others. In the same way it hurt when friends kept a secret from you growing up, it feels bad as a volunteer when it feels like everyone else knows what’s going on and has info that you don’t.
As a leader in a volunteer organization, if you feel exhausted and overworked, it’s probably because you’re doing too much. You may not realize this, but you’re surrounded by gifted individuals who would be willing to offer more of their skills if you would only share some trust and ask them.
I’m loving the opportunity to serve our local soccer club. It’s been a great reminder of the ways I need to grow as a leader. Every leader needs to be reminded of these 4 things every now and then. If you are a volunteer in an organization, I hope these 4 things speak to your experience. If you’re a leader, I hope they remind you of areas we all need to grow in.
- I don’t care as much as you, but I still care
- I probably don’t know what’s going on (Information is gold)
- Please don’t waste my time
- I’m more capable than you realize
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