Managing Volunteers

Recently, I took over the position of volunteer coordinator in addition to my role as chaplain. As a pastor and church staff member, I have been managing volunteers for years. There is always the excitement of having a new volunteer on board whether it is a musician, teacher, or whatever area of giftedness this person possesses. In reflecting on this subject, I have found that many people don’t know how to treat volunteers. I want to suggest some things to consider when dealing with volunteers.

1. They are volunteers!!!!!!! They don’t have to do what they do. They choose to do it and want to use their abilities. They are not your hired hands. Yes, they should be teachable and desire to do their best. Nonetheless, you have no reason to treat them like dirt because you’re on a power trip.

2. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. This is referred to as the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you (I’ll let you in on a little secret. Jesus said this. Your wise grandma only repeated it😀).

3. Value their work! Show them they are appreciated! Thank them constantly! When you boost them, they will perform better. Throw the unrealistic expectations out the window. 

4. Show them that you care about them as people not just performers of tasks! If your volunteers feel like commodities, they’ll find appreciation somewhere else or remain with you and underperform because you depress and oppress them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Many of these rules apply in paid situations also. I can honestly say I was the most miserable where my boss never voiced appreciation for my work. I had to remind myself daily that it was for the Lord because the ceiling would cave in if I got a compliment from my boss.

Make every person feel like a valuable member of the team! As a hospice chaplain, I have to understand team dynamics. I’m blessed with great coworkers who have fun and get the job done. But they also possess the compassion and qualities necessary to perform their tasks. 

Is morale low where you work or serve? These thoughts just might help change your atmosphere. I can promise you that it won’t hurt.


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