volunteer managers, we're always thinking about recruiting and
retaining volunteers. But what about those times when we need to "let
a volunteer go?" Are we prepared to help volunteers who are "aging
in place" leave their positions gracefully and feeling appreciated?
Do we have the skills to deal with - and even dismiss - a problem
volunteer before their behavior starts having wide-ranging negative
effects? These resources can help you successfully navigate these difficult
| Featured Resources|
Articles: Knowing When to Stop|
Part 1: How to Develop an Organizational Process to Help Volunteers Retire
Part 2: A Personal Account of a Manager's Efforts to Help Volunteers
How should you
deal with an aging volunteer whose performance has begun to fall short of
expectations? These two e-Volunteerism articles
are based on the experiences of the authors in a major Israeli organization.
Part 1 outlines an organizational process to help volunteers retire,
particularly when the abilities of long-time volunteers have substantially
deteriorated. Part 2 offers a personal account of a manager's efforts to help
volunteers retire with grace and support. e-Volunteerism subscribers have access to
the full text of Part 1 and Part 2; non-subcribers
can purchase each article for only $3.
Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community, 2nd Edition
11, "Keeping Volunteers on Track," offers an in-depth analysis of
volunteer motivation, preventing performance problems, and developing
a process for, when necessary, letting volunteers go.
What We Learned (the Hard Way) about Supervising Volunteers
10, "Solving Performance Problems," offers real-life-tested advice from
colleagues on how to diagnose the causes of friction, recognize the symptoms of
burnout, and choose whether to "terminate or tolerate" volunteers with troubling
Handling Problem Volunteers
This book will help you to assess the root causes of
volunteer performance problems. Examples range from "Annoying
Volunteers" with poor interpersonal skills to "Dangerously
Dysfunctional" ones, posing risk concerns. Sample volunteer
policies directly related to the handling of problematic volunteer
situations are also included.
| Book Excerpt|
a Supportive Release Process|
Excerpted from Chapter 11 of Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community, 2nd edition by Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch.
of the recurrent nightmares of any Volunteer Program Manager is
encountering a situation where they may have to consider "firing"
a volunteer. For many, this prospect creates severe stress, both over
the appropriateness of the action and over fear of possible legal and
political consequences. Cook, in a survey of Foster Grandparents
Programs in 23 communities, found that 82% of responding Volunteer
Program Managers rated the decision to terminate a volunteer as being
a "difficult or very difficult issue" for them. More than 60% of
the Volunteer Program Managers reported delaying dealing with the
problem and over 73% of managers did not have a termination plan or
policy to guide them in the decision.
or not, many volunteer program managers are subject to what McCurley
and Vineyard refer to as "Myths about Problem Volunteers:"
and Catagnus describe the multiple dilemmas facing the Volunteer
Program Manager in a
If I ignore the problem it will go away.
No one else notices.
- I can fix a dysfunctional person.
There's good in everyone...we just need to give them time to show
A confrontation will make things worse. They might get mad.
- A confrontation will result in the volunteer leaving the program and,
if they do, the program will fall apart.
- If I'm a truly caring person, I can handle all the people who are
- Everyone wants to be fixed.
to act affects your reputation and the reputation of volunteers, and
may put your organization at risk. Terminating the volunteer may also
affect your reputation and may result in a bitter ending for a
volunteer whose affiliation was valued by the organization and was,
for the volunteer, a source of great pride. There are no easy
reluctance probably occurs because most Volunteer Program Managers
are very people-oriented and respect the willingness of others to
help. There is particular difficulty in dealing with situations in
which the decision to terminate was not because of any particular
"fault" on the part of the volunteer, but is instead because of
ill health or a change in program needs. Where volunteering is viewed
as a benefit to the volunteer (such as in some volunteer programs
retired citizens), people have difficulty with termination because
they mentally classify volunteers as "clients," and it is
difficult to justify terminating a client.
important thing to remember is that the decision to terminate the
relationship between an agency and a volunteer is not a "judgment"
of the volunteer or their character or any other aspect of their
being. It is simply recognition that in the immediate circumstances
the relationship has reached a point where it is not productive. Just
as the volunteer may reach this determination and resign, so the
agency can reach a similar determination, and ask the volunteer to
leave. The underlying cause of the situation may, in truth, be the
fault of the agency or of the volunteer. Often, however, it is the
"fault" of neither - things just didn't work out. Not all
volunteers can fit into all settings. Not all agencies can prove
productive for all volunteers.
granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full
acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:
from Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community, Chapter 11 by Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch, © 2006. Found in the Energize, Inc.
Online Bookstore at http://www.energizeinc.com/store/5-224-E-1
|Energize, Inc. |
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Philadelphia, PA 19144
Energize empowers and inspires leaders of volunteers worldwide. Our specialty is creating and selecting the most relevant, innovative resources in volunteer management. We're advocates for the power of volunteers and for the recognition of the leaders who unleash it.