What Leaders Can Learn From Being A Volunteer

For the last two years our staff has spent a few hours volunteering at a local food bank as a part of our Christmas celebrations. At the end of our few hours we took a few moments to celebrate and to communicate what we may have learned from the experience. Here are some of our observations:

  • Evaluate the volunteers and assign tasks according to skills.
  • Clearly communicate expectations of task assigned.
  • Leader supplied the volunteer with proper training.
  • Leader supplied the volunteer with the resources needed to carry out task.
  • Whole process came to a stop when supplies were limited or non-existent.
  • When a task was not being carried out as expected, there was gentle correction and clear restatement of expectations.
  • Leader listened to all ideas of how to carry out a task differently than first instructed. Idea was evaluated against experience of the leader and was accepted or denied on that experience.
  • Volunteers not assigned to the right task easily got bored. Leader quickly recognized those circumstances and moved volunteers to a spot that better fit their skills.
  • Some volunteers needed to move often from task to task.
  • Some volunteers were very comfortable with the task they were assigned and thrived.
  • Just one person not performing task assigned affected the whole process.
  • Leader recognized the need to praise the volunteers and give encouragement.

Our organization is totally different from the one where we volunteered, however, we learned much from evaluating the process.  What observations about making volunteers successful would you add?