No ministry leader wakes up in the morning and ponders how incredible it will be to annoy the passionate people that volunteer in their ministries. No leader intends to frustrate the the team they serve with but so often we fall into behavioral traps that really get on volunteer’s nerves. Volunteers donate their time to causes and organizations they believe in. Their role means they are giving away the resource of time and attention. For volunteers to thrive we have to work hard to limit how often we frustrate them while we maximize the ministry time they are donating to the mission.
There are a few common traps we can fall into as we lead out volunteers. Here are my top 5 and I already admit that I may or may not have fallen into these traps myself. (please don’t ask my volunteers! Ha!)
Trap #1 >> Don’t define clear responsibilities and roles. >> There’s nothing worse than showing up to serve with no idea of how to help or what is expected. When volunteers don’t have clear expectations for their roles then the quickly wonder why they are donating their time!
Trap #2 >> Don’t communicate important information. >> Volunteers rarely enjoy surprises unless they are gifts! Volunteers get frustrated when they get asked questions but have not been given the proper info to inform those they lead. Your volunteers should be the ones with the inside info. Work hard to keep them in the loop.
Trap #3 >> Make big decisions without asking key volunteers for input. >> When volunteers give you their passion and time to advance the mission and then without asking for any input your change the mission or the strategy you need to be ready for annoyed volunteers. As you dream make sure and process ideas with your key volunteers.
Trap #4 >> Try to do things you’re terrible at. >> There are many things you don’t do well and I bet your volunteers already know what they are. If you want to help your team give away what you are terrible at!
Trap #5 >> Always train and never celebrate. >> When we never praise the efforts of our team and only focus on improvement volunteers can easily feel beat down. Set the bar high but never forget to celebrate every win! Volunteers want to be on the winning team and the team that is having fun.