Working with Volunteers

19Sep08

During WordCamp Philippines I have had the pleasure of working with a group of talented and hardworking volunteers, bloggers and students, who were instrumental in making the event successful. Having had much experience both as a volunteer and as coordinator for different organizations on different events, I think I have a pretty good idea on what it takes to motivate volunteers to work efficiently.

First is recognizing that they are there on their free will. They are there to offer their time and services for free, without coercion. Appreciating this will make them feel like what they are doing is worth their while. Volunteers are not slaves. Do not command them. Instead, manage and work with them.

Know their strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledge these and assign tasks that you know they would enjoy and do well. Do not force volunteers to suddenly acquire a skill or learn a task. They are there because they know they can contribute something. Know what it is they are good at, delegate them a task that fits their skills set.

Clarify expectations. Lay down your cards as early as possible. Tell them all they need to know about the event, the participants, the processes, the tasks, and even your quirks and expectations. Inversely, know what their expectations are. Know why they are there and what they want to get out of the experience.

Allow them to grow. Do not micromanage. Allow them to work, do things the way they are comfortable it being done. Acknowledge that yours might not be the only way.

Take care of them. As a good coordinator or manager, it is part of your duty to make sure your volunteers are not overworked and are compensated. If not with money, compensate by providing food, freebies from sponsors, or some perks. More important that money or things, shower them with praise and deal with them with respect. Make them feel like they are being appreciated. Keep a friendly atmosphere.

Acknowledge their contribution. Do not hog the limelight, and take all the glory. Know that whatever your successes are is because of them and their hardwork. One cannot thank volunteers enough. Moreover, offer to give them recommendations or character referrals for future use.

And of course, keep in touch. Volunteers are generally kind-hearted people who make great friends. 😉 Have fun with them even after the work is done.

And you know what, if you treat your co-workers, colleagues, and employees same way as you do volunteers, everybody will be happier and more productive. 😉

Until the next time, thank you again to all the WordCamp volunteers!!!

***

Ned and Ardy Roberto releases marketing business solutions book.

PBA Code: PBA094p6os83

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