I’m a few chapters in to Simon Sinek’s latest book, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t. It’s a great summary of how the best organizations are defined by a sense of safety and trust.
(Or at least that’s what it’s about so far. I’m only 52 pages in. Chapters seven and forward might be about a three legged puppy named Chip that learns to ride a unicycle. I have no idea.)
Sinek quotes a 2013 Gallup poll called “The State of the American Workplace,” where researchers found that when our bosses ignore us, 40% of us disengage from our work. Check out. Slack off. Phone it in. If we feel that our work isn’t important in the eyes of those to whom we’re accountable, we’ll simply do less work, or at least do more shoddy work.
How does that translate to our volunteer teams?
Let me ask a different question: how many of your volunteers from this time last year are still actively engaged?
If you see a significant dropoff in your volunteer retention, the issue might not be their commitment. It might be your attention. Specific feedback – whether outrageously positive or mildly constructive – is one of the most valuable gifts you can give. Paying attention to what they do will give them the encouragement they need to do it more.
If our volunteers aren’t sticking with us, we might start with our commitment to stick with them.
Are we the reason for their disengagement?
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