said, George Bernard Shaw, and I agree.
Ever wanted to put your hand up but hesitated in the face of negativity? Ever watched while a single doom-monger, with a well-timed outburst, puts off a whole crowd who are working on a good idea?
You may have just encountered a pessimist. Pessimists will often sound like this: He tried whatever you are suggesting once (just once, mind!) and it didn’t work. She did something similar to what you are suggesting and it didn’t work. They know someone who tried something ……..
What to do? Here’s a simple 3-point plan:
Gather strength in numbers
Separate yourself from these negative people. You will never change them. They may be people who have always had trouble seeing the positive or they have had a past experience that has put them off.
Dismiss their discouraging remarks for what they are – usually an isolated or historical example not relevant to the plans in progress.
Gather strength in numbers if there are more of you with positive ideas on what CAN be done, stick together. Support each other.
What ever happens, don’t let a lone negative voice disrupt the way of progress and good ideas. If all else fails, quote George Bernard Shaw at them!
And see for here for more inspiration
The nine basic rules for volunteer recognition published by http://handsonblog.org/. Simple and succinct advice about giving volunteers the honest, appropriate, timely recognition they deserve.
1st Feb: If you want to volunteer to help at the Ryder Cup in Perthshire, Scotland, in 2014, you will be asked to pay £75 to register. Gleneagles Ryder Cup Volunteer Plan “Unacceptable”
The ugly Postscript:
By 2nd Feb, the Ryder Cup had received 9000 volunteer applicants BBC News. There’s golf for you!
1. Keep them informed
Make sure your volunteers understand what their role involves and how it fits into the overall project or event. The need just enough detail to see the big picture – they don’t want to read a telephone directory-sized handbook! It is likely that different volunteers will need different levels of detail. Friendly, timely, informed communication is key.
2. Keep them busy
Volunteers will have made sacrifices – given up free time or taken leave from work – and will fee undervalued if there is not enough to do. Plan carefully to ensure they are actively engaged in a productive activity, or at least entertained if there is a temporary lull. You will need to monitor activity and encourage the workforce to be flexible so they can be redeployed if fewer numbers are required on certain tasks as the project evolves. Bored and frustrated people will vote with their feet. If they don’t have enough to do today, don’t expect to see them again tomorrow, next week or next time.
3. Keep them fed and watered
This should be obvious – but while volunteers are working for you they reasonably expect to be fed and definitely need to be kept hydrated. What you give them will depend on their shift, remoteness and your resources. A packed lunch or a meal voucher is common. For smaller roles, just a small snack and a drink is a good way to say thank you. Can your sponsors help by providing supplies?
4. Help them be properly equipped
Don’t forget to tell them what they need to bring. Mobile phone? Pen and notebook? A folding chair? Let them know if they will be inside or outside and advise them on suitable clothing. I’ve seen cold, wet road-junction marshals wearing suits and ties at a cycling event. I’ve turned up to a winter sports fixture dressed in thermals for sub-zero temperatures only to be given a job inside. Make sure you give them information to help them help themselves by arriving with the right kit.
5. Give them them opportunity to communicate
Have you ever been sent information from a “no-reply@…….” e-mail address. And then searched the Frequently Asked Questions page on the website in vain for the information you need? This way of doing business may be OK for big companies avoiding time wasters. But if your volunteer really needs to find out some information, they need a way of contacting the right person who can answer their question. If not they will get so frustrated that they will probably let you down. And how will they tell you they are not coming!
Volunteering can introduce you to interesting new people, teach you useful skills and bring its rewards in the form of accomplishments and job satisfaction. But it can have its frustrations too. Here are my top tips for surviving:
1. Don’t take to heart things your “customers” say. A few people have no regard for the fact that you have given up your time to support them and they will treat you as a paid servant. Rise above their comments!
2. Don’t get sucked in and do more than you planned. Do the role you agreed and politely decline requests to do more. Learn to say “NO”!
3. Be patient. Sometimes things move frustratingly slowly in the world of volunteering. People are fitting their voluntary roles in around their lives. Just hang on in there and it will all happen one day – soon!
Do you have a tip of your own?
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?
On the one hand the British Olympic Association says the London 2012 Olympics will be the “Twitter Games”. And on the other, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) are telling their volunteers that they should not share their experiences via social media.
The athletes have had strict guidelines for a while, but recent publication of rules for the volunteer “Games Makers” is causing a bit of a stir. Some of these rules might be justified in terms of privacy such as not taking photos of areas closed to the public. But others seem to be unenforceable nonsense – not talking about a VIP or celebrity and not disclosing breaking news about an athlete. Social networks will be humming with this sort of news, surely.
You could argue that Games Makers have a job to do and shouldn’t be working one-handed – or take their eye off the ball – in order to tweet. But many games makers are passionately excited about what they are doing and will be desperate to share a celebrity snippet, an ad lib moment, or a significant sports sight, with their friends and families. Can rules really stop them? Paul Adams predicts “that we will see tons and tons of footage leaking out from the 70,000 volunteers, and that the best footage from the Games will come from regular folks, attendees and volunteers, and not from official TV crews.” He also thinks “that by the time the 2016 Olympics rolls around, this decision will be laughable, and the enforcers of this rule will look like dinosaurs.”
i-volunteer is running dire predictions of volunteers voting with their feet at these social media rules. But as LOCOG have reportedly got a problem of managing disappointment of potential volunteers who are surplus to requirements, I doubt that they are too worried.
What do you think about the Olympics’ social media guidelines?