The most effective way to lose a volunteer

I’ve worked with volunteers for the last 20 years. I understand that people are motivated in many different ways depending on their personality and circumstances. However, there is one very effective way to demotivate a volunteer: And that is to criticise them. Have a go at them. Unconstructively is bad.  In public is worst. Do this and they will be off faster than a 10 year-old sprinter.

As a volunteer manager, I think you need to put your volunteers first and treat them professionally and courteously – even if you yourself are a volunteer. They may not actually know you are a volunteer but you mustn’t forget that they are. Volunteers need organising but definitely not bossing about. And be friendly – would you want to work alongside someone who was grumpy? If something doesn’t work out, leave graciously and the door might be open next time.

But what if you really do want to get rid of a volunteer? Just as Fettes Management talk about “Three types of people to fire”, you don’t want to be saddled with victims, nonbelievers, or know-it-alls either. If you are unlucky enough to acquire an energy-sapping, non-contributing volunteer who is upsetting others you have to take action. Just like in the paid business world you have to recognise this and fire them – or at least give them a firm, but private, thank you and goodbye.

Have you ever been treated badly when you were volunteering?

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