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    11 Replies Latest reply on Mar 24, 2008 4:14 AM by sirebral

    Managing Volunteers.

    sirebral Wayfarer
      I could use a little guidance on how to manage a group of volunteers. A magazine was recently dropped into community hands and I am with the group of people who have picked it up and are working on it now. The group, however, has divisions and inequal contributions, and members who work in an underhanded manner.

      For example: One member had left out several contributors when handing out credit. Since the contributors had handed their work over to my department I responded defending them and the individual declares me inhumane. After the incident other members of the group have tried to push me out, but the web page is on my registered domain and now I recently registered the Trademark and Trade Name.

      My hope lies within a few members of the group. I know a few would like to eventually make money with the magazine, and one other member has a vision with the magazine and web site that I would love to Venture.

      Now that you know my situation I would like to ask. How do I deftly administor my ownership of the magazine and remove the problem members?
        • Re: Managing Volunteers.
          Lighthouse24 Ranger
          How many people are involved in this group, and can you get them all together in the same place at the same time? Once I know that, I think I can outline a process that could help you (but it may be tomorrow or Saturday before I get it done and posted).
            • Re: Managing Volunteers.
              sirebral Wayfarer
              Yeah, we hold regular staff meetings. Getting them together is no problem. I would be grateful if you offered something even if I decided not to use it.

              I have a contingency plan. It's a last resort plan that I can use if I need too.
                • Re: Managing Volunteers.
                  Lighthouse24 Ranger

                  1. Have each person describe (in a minute or less) his or her vision for the magazine (or whatever community issues you're facing). Ground rule: no one can interrupt, and there's no discussing the benefits or obstacles that could stand in the way.

                  2. Break people into pairs (pair people who don't know each other, or who don't work well together) and have them consider these three questions: a) What major strengths do I have to offer this group? b) What key role could I play in bringing about one (or more) of the possible visions being considered? c) What essential knowledge or skill would this group be missing if I wasn't here? Have each person in the pair interview the other, and capture the other person's answers. Then reassemble the group, and have each person tell the whole group what the person whom he/she interviewed has to offer.

                  3. Ask the team to consider the possible futures that were identified (from step 1) and the talent that's available (from step 2). Then you select and propose a specific key element of those possible futures where there seems (to you) to be general agreement, and ask for a consensus (i.e., agreement that the group shares this common desire). Ground rule: the presence of problems is not a reason to reject or abandon a possible future -- the question at this stage is "Do you WANT a million dollars?" not "Do you think you can MAKE a million dollars?" (but for your purposes, you'd be asking something like "Does everyone agree that we'd like the magazine to be a for-profit entity in the future?"). Another tip: Be careful not to express what YOU want as a statement. If you need to inject your influence, do so by asking questions in a way that leads the group to discover for themselves what you want them to conclude. As you discuss a key element and seek consensus from the group, write down (on a separate board or flip chart) the major reasons for any lack of consensus that comes up (for instance, if someone strongly believes that the magazine should NOT be a for-profit entity, you'd capture that). However, don't discuss the obstacles themselves at this stage. Identify all the general agreements and common desires first.

                  4. Recap all the general agreements and common desires for the group, then go back to the obstacles that were identified, one at a time, and discuss how a particular obstacle could be overcome or removed. People who have vision, capability, and pride in their contributions will find ways to "work it out" in order to accomplish something desirable and worthwhile. The ones who are "underhanded," play politics, pursue private agendas, don't pull their weight, etc. will be flushed out of hiding by this whole process -- and they'll either have to sign on and contribute, or step off and agree to let the group move forward on a given initiative without them. (In other words, being "part of the problem" will be removed as a viable option -- they either commit to become "part of the solution" or they stay behind.)

                  5. Conclude with a vision statement that outlines where the team is going, how it will overcome the problems and obstacles to get there, and what key strengths and roles each person will contribute to ensure that the vision is achieved.

                  When I've facilitated this process, I've had teams thank me for getting non-contributors to leave, and I've had those non-contributors thank me for getting them out of what they considered an impossible situation and group of people. (I guess that's where handling it "deftly" comes in!) Hope this helps (if not you, someone else in the community with a challenging team situation). Good luck, whatever approach you take.
                    • Re: Managing Volunteers.
                      sirebral Wayfarer
                      That is a good answer!! I am going to copy that and pste into a word document. I like the GNU Free Document License so your smallbusiness online community handle goes down as author. Thanks.

                      Luckiest - The answer to your question: Hire People.
                        • Re: Managing Volunteers.
                          LUCKIEST Guide
                          Lighthouse 24 always gives GOOD answers
                          LUCKIEST
                          • Re: Managing Volunteers.
                            Lighthouse24 Ranger
                            Glad I could help (and thanks for giving me credit).
                              • Re: Managing Volunteers.
                                sirebral Wayfarer
                                You are welcome. It's my new standard.
                                  • Re: Managing Volunteers.
                                    FCPainter Adventurer
                                    I too love Lighthouse's answer. There is only one other thought I would share - one other tip would be to sit everyone down and ask them what their expectations are of you. Have them shout out their ideas and write them down on a flipchart or something. When they are done, pick the top 5-10 that you feel you can commit to and say "Right here and now, I am going to commit to doing these things you have asked for....assuming I do, what can I expect in return."

                                    When we did this, it really turned around some bad employees because they viewed it as a new covenant. Perhaps something along these lines could be applied to your situation

                                    Best
                                  • Re: Managing Volunteers.
                                    sirebral Wayfarer
                                    Just a follow up on how this turned out. Pretty bad at first! A few members of the team took to lieing about me on several forums and they were not saying good stuff either. But it turned out pretty good afterwards. While the other group decided to remain the same and continue their endeavour under a new name, I came in contact with a person who is contracted to work on a group created for getting publications published.

                                    After a few conversations we talked about getting the magazine published. I explained to him that I didn't want the same fallout as before so I needed a contract. Shortly afterwards the contracted member went to an attorney and drafted a contract, which is very similar to the legal agreement I was attempting to establish.

                                    The contract was signed and now the magazine has a publisher. We are not looking at just the magazine to publish though, instead we are looking at all sorts of game material to be published. And after the update, and the posts I posted on forums, I will go back to being quiet, since it seems I succeed far better when I am quiet until after the fact.
                          • Re: Managing Volunteers.
                            LUCKIEST Guide

                            Great question. "How do I deftly administer my ownership of the magazine and remove the problem
                            members"? VERY CAREFULLY. That is the fun of volunteering.

                             

                            It is particularly important in operating a volunteer program to retain a broad view of
                            potential volunteer involvement. Do not assume that the only people who are likely to
                            volunteer for the program are the same types of people who previously volunteered for it.

                             

                            A volunteer program requires the same type of managerial
                            effort that any other program operation would require. All of the basic steps in program
                            development and design apply to it, with some additional care required because of the
                            possible lack of familiarity and comfort of staff with the concept of volunteer
                            utilization.

                             

                            Program planning and design begins with an initial assessment of why the agency wishes
                            to utilize volunteers and what the benefits and problems are likely to be of volunteer
                            utilization.

                             

                            Good luck, LUCKIEST P S What is your back up solution??
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