“Just Tell Me What To Do.”
In many years of leadership, I’ve learned that volunteers are not fans of micromanagement. They like to have the freedom to be creative, to use their God-given common sense, to add a bit of panache even while following a process.
However, I’ve found there’s an almost universal exception to this, and that’s the brand-new volunteer.
I’m working with a few dozen brand-new vols at the time I write this. They’re either brand-new to Guest Services or brand-new to doing Guest Services at this particular campus in this particular setting using our particular systems alongside this particular larger group of brand-new vols.
And for nearly all of them, they want to know what success looks like. Where the finish line is. How a “win” is measured.
They want to know how system A works in conjunction with process B. How the Set Up Team tees up the First-Time Guest Team which preps for the Seating Team which lends some support to the Tear Down Team who makes sure everything is ready for the Set Up Team the following week.
They want to know the expectations, the unwritten rules, the scripting, the “what ifs?,” and the chain of command when stuff breaks down.
In other words, they simply want to be told what to do.
Telling a volunteer what to do isn’t a negative when that volunteer is just starting out or is transitioning to a new role. Holding their hand isn’t a sign of distrust from you to them. Rather, it should be viewed as a sign that they can trust you…trust you to give them good information, to lead them well, to set them up for success.
As one sage said, “Clarity is kindness.“
If I don’t tell these brand-new volunteers what to do, it’s just a matter of time before their lack of clarity leads to a ton of frustration.
That said, if I’m still holding their hand and scripting their every move six months from now, that is neither kind nor a display of trust. That’s micromanaging.
So yes, tell your vols what to do when they’re new. But hold their hand so they can learn to stand on their own two feet. Then coach from the sidelines and let them play the game.