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Risk management and policy development
might not be your favorite volunteer management topics, but no one can deny they
are important. This month, we offer a number of ways to evaluate and improve
your risk management practices - print and e-books, a helpful excerpt, and a
chance to submit a question to Linda Graff, the volunteer management
field's leading authority on all matters risky.
|Linda Graff's Books in Paperback in the Energize Bookstore (limited time only!)|
Linda Graff is the author
of numerous books on volunteer management which the Energize online bookstore carries
in electronic (PDF) format. We currently have a limited number of Linda's
books in paperback -- so if you've been waiting to purchase a hard copy of Better Safe..., Beyond Police Checks: The Definitive Volunteer and Employee Screening Guidebook, or By Definition: Policies for Volunteer Programs, now's your chance! Just be sure to select
the "Print Version" add-to-cart button when shopping
|Your Chance to Ask Linda Graff!
Do you have a question about
risk management or policy development in your volunteer program?
E-mail your question to firstname.lastname@example.org
by Monday, August 17th
. Linda will pick one question to answer in a post on the Energize Book Blog
and we'll try to provide some advice for everyone who writes in. (Don't be
afraid to share your issues -- we won't post the last name, e-mail address, or
organization of the asker on the blog.)
| Book Excerpt
Gut Feelings and Intuitions in Volunteer
From Beyond Police Checks: The Definitive Volunteer & Employee Screening Guidebook by Linda L. Graff, pp 126-7.
They are impossible to
define and yet most of us experience them. Triggers called "gut
feelings" arise with some regularity among screeners. Variously called
"intuition," or "instinct," screeners sense that something
is "off," or "not quite right" with particular candidates.
It might be the feeling of the hair standing up on the back of your neck, or
the troubling sense of uncertainty that nags at you when the interviewee leaves
What should you do when you
experience misgivings of this nature? The first thing to do is to push yourself
to identify precisely what triggered the sense of apprehension. Was it
something in the candidate's manner, choice of words, presentation style, body
language, or attitude? If you can pinpoint the source of discomfort, then
explore it. Is it a legitimate cause for concern, or is it merely a reflection
of discomfort with "difference"? Be careful that discrimination
against someone not exactly like yourself is not in play.
The gut feeling can arise
from other sources. Perhaps the source is a slight inconsistency among the data
collected about a candidate. Perhaps the source is the too careful choice of
non-committal language from a referee. Maybe a sense of unease surfaces from a
slightly less than convincing explanation of gaps in an employment record or
frequent moves from community to community.
The recommendation is that
gut feelings not be ignored (Lorraine Street, 1996; Robert W Wendover, 1996;
Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch, 1996). There is often some basis in reality for
an intuitive sense of apprehension. Like other red flags, a gut feeling should
not be grounds for disqualification but, instead, a cause to investigate
Get a second opinion. Ask a
colleague or a supervisor to join you in a second interview with the candidate,
or to re-check a reference. Think about how much you want to share with your
assistant in advance. It might be better to say less about your misgivings and
see if he or she picks up on what you sensed. She or he might be able to
confirm or dispel your concerns.
When misgivings cannot be
easily allayed, it may be necessary to ask the individual to undergo further
screening. For example, an additional interview, extra reference checks, a
performance assessment, or a probation period might provide enough additional
information for the decision to become clear. Caution is advised, however. As Lorraine Street (1996: 3.37) says, "the
organization must be careful not to discriminate against someone by asking more
than it normally would, without a good reason." Here is the basis for
pushing hard to identify the source of unease. You may be called upon to defend
it in the face of an allegation of discrimination.
As Lorraine Street (1996) elaborates, the situation
may not be easily resolved. You may be faced with a difficult choice. You place
a candidate you are still uncomfortable with, which may increase risks, and
which will certainly increase the importance of all post-screening risk
management mechanisms. You decline the application of a candidate on less than
clear or defensible grounds which leaves the organization vulnerable to
discrimination claims. Sometimes the choice comes down to what your gut tells
you might be the best course of action in the best interests of clients and the
organization's mission, versus the most prudent legal option of
Clearly a win-win outcome
is unlikely in such a dilemma. The ethically right choice is probably to give
priority to the well-being of clients, but either way, the screener will want
to ensure that the organization supports the option she or he pursues.
granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full
acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:
Beyond Police Checks:
The Definitive Volunteer & Employee Screening Guidebook by Linda L. Graff, © 1999, Linda
Graff & Associates. Found in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore at http://www.energizeinc.com/store/1-176-E-1
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