Triage Your Team: How to Make the Most of a Low Weekend
Every leader has been there: the Saturday night phone call. The Sunday morning text message. The inexplicable half-dozen who obviously collaborated and decided they were picking this weekend to be no-shows.
At some point, we’re all going to have a day when we’re scrambling for volunteers. Whether it’s a sunny weekend or an ice storm, a stomach bug outbreak or a global pandemic, we’re going to be called on to do the impossible and make our volunteer head count s–t–r–e–t–c–h more than normal.
So how do you do that?
1. Plan in advance.
It’s coming. You might as well be ready. Grab a notepad and start jotting down your plan of attack. And when you’re finished, stick it in a drawer or snap it to your photo roll, but put it somewhere where you can refer to it quickly.
2. Let the situation determine your situation.
We based our model (listed below) on a global pandemic. In other words, our volunteer numbers might be low, but our overall attendance is also low. That means fewer needed volunteers overall, and some areas that might need to be scrapped because good social distancing or other safety practices can’t be maintained.
On the flip side, I’ve discovered that a holiday weekend can wreak havoc on your numbers: volunteers are low, but first-time guest count tends to go up, because some are taking advantage of visiting relatives and friends who attend your church.
3. Determine your “must-have” roles.
Think through every area your volunteer team covers. In our context, that’s Guest Services, which handles everything from the street to the seat. If the world is burning down, is parking or seating more important? Door holders or First-Time Guest greeters? VHQ or Next Steps? While no role is altogether unimportant, there are some that should take priority if your roster is tight.
4. Keep the team, lose the count.
There are some areas that can’t be overlooked, but they may be able to be reduced. Use the Skeleton Crew model to get minimal coverage, but still keep the “team” covered.
5. Communicate and cross-train.
Don’t reassign a parking team volunteer to seating without making sure they know the basics of the role. Don’t assume that staff member is doing you a favor by filling in at the guest tent. Give everyone the need-to-know info, and then let the entire team (staff and volunteers) know what the plan is for the morning.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Since the onset of covid and our initial regathering, we’ve seen a 70-80% drop in volunteers at some of our campuses. While we’re able to temporarily cover those gaps with staff, it led to a discussion of our own triage model. Here is what we came up with in order of importance:
- RSVP scanning
- First-time guest tent
- Auditorium seating
- Auditorium entry
- Outer entry (may be combined with RSVP scanning)
- RSVP questions (may be combined with FTG tent)
- Next Steps
The goal is to get at least minimal coverage at all areas, but if that’s not possible, we start at number nine and start cutting. It’s not a model we want to stay in forever, but it gives us some direction on those emergency weekends.
What’s your triage plan?