What problems/issues do you encounter, in bringing volunteers into your lib?
Why do we need volunteers? Overall, increase service to patrons, hopefully decrease stress for staff by freeing up time.Sometimes there is tension between paid staff and volunteers. One reason is that paid staff sometimes see volunteers as patrons who need extra help, get in the way, and actually prevent them from doing their jobs effectively. Let’s look at some ways to repair that relationship dynamic.The key of course is in good volunteer training, including customer confidentiality. There are things that staff members just do not want to do, but they can train volunteers to do those things, so they do not have to. The trick is to pair up staff members with volunteers who will be good partners. Routine tasks can be taken over by volunteers.Customer service improves when there are more qualified people (not “warm bodies”) to handle customer requests or customer care tasks.These are benefits to the library of having volunteers, so this is a way to “sell” it to the staff who might be reluctant to accept volunteer help.
None of these things prevent libraries from “hiring” volunteers. They can be enormously beneficial, of course. Court costs?
Make sure it’s part of training.Volunteers need to be able to work with staff members.Staff and volunteers need to be aware of each other’s authority levels to avoid interference with each other’s work. Example?Staff should be able to see volunteers as helpers, not as patrons who need helpVolunteers are like paid staff in that they will feel empowered to do more and do it better when they are charged with more and more important responsibilities, but know where their limits are, even if they are self-imposed.
What are the characteristics, strengths, and needs of the target population?What qualifications will volunteers need in order to serve this population effectively through the program?What are the preferences of the target population regarding service delivery by paid staff or volunteers?How do the possible volunteer positions relate to the overall mission of the agency?
Part of effective delegation is to understand and balance the needs of the organization with everything else. Here are the needs that we generally think we have to balance in managing volunteers, but there are many more factors.
Patrons or customers or users?
Here are the needs that we generally think we have to balance in managing volunteers, but there are many more factors.
Usually, the people who manage volunteers also manage paid staff, so their needs also need to be considered.When things work well, these things overlap, so when staff members are working toward meeting organizational goals, they are also serving their constituents along the way, assuming that the organization’s goals are in line with serving their patrons.
In managing paid staff and volunteers together, we also need to be aware of the motivation behind volunteers’ giving of their time, so that we can best utilize them and their enthusiasm.AltruismLoss: personal or professionalAlso, what motivations can you think of that drive volunteers in general, not just in libraries?
Ideally, these factors would all be balanced to create a healthy situation in which everyone involved is working toward shared goals.
However, sometimes when volunteers work closely with some staff members, their motivations tend to drift toward pleasing that staff member and only performing duties that will help one person. Other times, volunteers become so service and customer oriented that they drift in the direction of trying to help “too much,” possibly slipping into areas outside their boundaries of authority or knowledge. What other reasons are there why the motivation of volunteers might drift away from meeting the organization’s needs? Anything specific?
When the volunteers get together to form a group or a Friends organization, then their motivation might change to reflect the mission and goals of another group, and it will usually either mirror the mission of the library, or its mission will be established to support the library, so it’s easier for them to be all on the same page.
All of these needs, motivations, and duties can stay more tightly integrated with the influence of a friends group or some similar organization of volunteers. That way, they will form a mission and vision that more closely fits with that of your library, and it will help them stay focused. It is an example of the power of peer pressure, since people don’t want to let the group down.
Internal motivation – can you delegate accordingly?There needs to be a bridge between what motivates a volunteer and what tasks the volunteer is asked to perform. Since volunteers are not motivated by money, go back to the interview documentation for each volunteer (or remember back, ask a staff member with long institutional memory) to find out what originally motivated him/her to volunteer. Use that information to understand better what that volunteer will find continually motivating about volunteering.Delegate tasks that relate back to that original motivation if possible. Discussion: What has worked for you before?
More external; can be powerfulThese 4 motivators are commonly attributed to volunteer manager and writer Nan Hawthorne (from http://www.nationalserviceresources.org/feature-mar2009-volunteer-week listed on resource list)Praise motivates a lot of people, including volunteers. Publicly praise by recognizing them in an official report to City Council; to show that the library is appreciative, write personal thank you notes. Little gifts or small naming opportunities. Naming opportunities usually reserved for those contributing lots of donations, usually money, but you can name a piece of furniture for a volunteer who contributes a certain number of hours. Having a policy in place to keeps from stepping on people’s toes.Discussion on PUBLIB where people wrote in to tell the group how they recognized volunteers; one library kept aside some recent bestsellers (without holds of course, maybe additional copies, etc.) to allow the volunteers to pick one to be placed “in their honor”; it was a very popular practice. Bookplates may also be possible. Affiliation: might be recognition in front of people whose opinion the volunteer cares about, perhaps that of their peers (a banquet might be a good idea, an awards ceremony). They might want to be associated with a group of people who do good things, so giving out tshirts or bumper stickers to identify library volunteers might also be a motivator. Are “volunteer” nametags available for them to wear out in the stacks? That identifies them while they are working. Name badges, with actual names or with “Library Volunteer”, are a good idea anyway, because we all know people come up and ask, “Do you work here?” That will give them a good jumping off point for either helping the person or sending the person up the chain to someone who can. If accomplishment is a motivator, then that volunteer will appreciate a certificate every year citing the number of hours contributed, increase responsibilities in the library (along with training and recognition of course) and actual evaluations. Evaluations are sometimes tricky. Touchy. Be sure volunteers know at the outset if possible that they will be evaluated, because they might be uncomfortable with that. It can be a positive experience. It can be a time to have a conversation with them about what they are doing well to focus their tasks on their strengths. It can also be a time to determine what their weaknesses are, so that other people can take on responsibilities in those areas…phrase that in a way that will make the volunteer feel relieved not to have to do those things in his/her areas of weakness. Be careful in working with volunteers who are motivated by power and influence, because those can certainly be rewards, but it is difficult to dole out influence and power as a reward. Some safe ways to do that are to train the volunteers to be spokespeople and advocates for the library, but be sure to educate them in the library’s mission and goals as well as talking points and policies about sharing information. Then they can interact with elected officials, get involved as “lay” persons with professional organizations as “library supporters,” and rub elbows with people in positions of authority. This might also enable them to work with the media.
Remember that paying dues and attending meetings do not make a useful volunteer. Also, these things need to be considered or reconsidered before crafting your volunteer service policy.These relationships can sometimes blur the lines in the chain of command for volunteers. The leadership of the Friends group needs to be on the same page with the library administration, so that tasks can be assigned by the appropriate person—maybe the volunteer manager if there is one—maybe the leadership in the Friends group who is in charge of the ongoing book sale or library gift shop?
My impression is that not many institutions have written policies surrounding volunteer management. Orgs e.g.National Honor Society, Local service clubs (Kiwanis)
Library space is something to consider, because control over any amount of space is seen as “prime real estate,” so it’s important to work out where people will be able to work, which workstations they will use, and when they will show up in order to be able to use that space. For instance, if there is a work space where a night-time or weekend worker sits, then it might be an ideal place for a volunteer to work during weekday hours. It can be point of contention, though, between volunteers and paid staff. For example, if there is a staff member in the workroom trying to print spine labels, a chatty volunteer will not be a good fit for sharing that workspace. However, a volunteer who has been trained in carefully placing labels and stickers on materials, it will be a better match and the workflows can be meshed together. It makes sense for them to share the space and work on a shared goal.
At http://www.louisville-library.org/ABOUT/LibraryPolicies/volunteers/tabid/372/Default.aspxOr from Massachusetts Regional Library System. Volunteer Policies [collection]http://www.wmrls.org/policies/6regions/volunteer.html
Speaking of rules….Using volunteers to replace paid staff in deliberately (maybe not by the library) underfunded programs is considered unethical. Given current economic climate…examples of when line is blurry: It’s mid-budget year, and our focus group looking at bilingual services has determined that there is a need right now for Spanish-language family programming to take place in the evenings. We can ask for a bilingual story-teller position in 4 months, for the fiscal year starting in 6 months, but for now, have to rely on a volunteer recruited by the volunteer focus group to get the program off the ground.We can save money in staffing by using dedicated volunteers from the community to work on the circulation desk during slow times, like Friday afternoons ten to four. That will free up all other staff to get their behind the scenes work done without having to answer the phone, put people on the computers, or give directions to the restrooms.Do you consider it ok to actively recruit MLIS-educated volunteers? Discussion: It devalues our expertise. It shows our parent organization that our time is so undervalued that we’ll work for free. But what if there is a retired librarian in your community who approaches you to come in a few nights a month to help people with genealogy searches?What if you always hear from recent MLIS grads who want some experience in libraries in order to get a job? Are there times when it’s ok?Discussion: Has anyone ever been approached by a court-ordered community service worker who asked you to report more hours to the courts than he or she had actually worked? Under no circumstances is this ok. He is asking you to do something unethical. I was approached once by a board member from a different county to talk about library things, which was a little out of the ordinary, but he seemed to have good reasons for seeking advice from an objective librarian outside of his situation. After sharing materials and discussing the similarities and differences between our organizations, he introduced me to his son or grandson who had to do an outrageous number of community service hours and wanted me to report that he had completed them in my library…but he didn’t want to actually work all of the hours. This was a very uncomfortable situation that I did not see coming, and it was a very sneaky way to try to do something that everyone involved knew was wrong. Lesson learned: these things do actually happen, and it is up to us to keep our profession’s nose ethically clean.
Look at most of the verbs in this list. They involve communication with volunteers about change. We have all been to professional development classes that talk about communicating clearly about change with paid staff, but don’t forget your volunteers. If they have gotten on board with your organization’s mission and have been working toward accomplishing organizational goals, then when things change and they are “out of the loop,” then they might feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them and like they are underappreciated. Put potential change in the context of necessity. Show by examples how the organizations continued health or even survival depends on enacting change across the board.Have a 2-way conversation about what you think will happen. What does the volunteer think will happen? This is when a lot of their fears will surface, so have this conversation in an environment of trust. Be open to listening to the concerns of the volunteer. Then ask for input. Ask how the concerns would be addressed if the volunteer “ran the zoo.” It may be that a volunteer has been through something similar in a previous work experience and has valuable input. Consider necessary skills in a before and after sense. Relate skills to abilities that carry through before and after the transition and the skills that are enabled by those abilities. That way, the volunteer won’t feel like his/her current skills will be obsolete. They may just have to be developed in a different direction.Clarify any misunderstandings. That means address what’s going around in the rumor mill. Close the conversation by asking for more input. Asking for improvements will end the conversation on a positive note.
Give volunteers a safe (not just physically) and consistent place to work. There are going to be bigger costs in liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage, but a knowledgeable risk management professional (parent organization’s h.r. department) or a trustworthy insurance agent can point us in the right direction.
Record-keeping importantDepends on budget; can you get donations?Perks?Pins, mugs, etc.?
We see “Give it away,” and we automatically think about the volunteers giving away their time to the organization. We need to see this from the other direction as well. The volunteer manager (Friends president, library director, head of adult services, summer reading coordinator) also needs to give it away. Trust: volunteers develop a lot of buy in by sensing that they are trusted to take over a project or task.Invitations to contribute.Tasks that are mission oriented and are meaningful…tasks need to speak to the library’s strategic plan and the goals in it.Responsibilities. When volunteers reach a point at which they can determine their own workflows
These are the reasons we might see for evaluating either community/civic volunteers or our Friends volunteers. It prompts some communication about the work each individual is doing, and allows the volunteer manager to probe the volunteer’s feelings. This should be built into the polices reflecting the library’s relationship with the Friends Group. Volunteers should never be blindsided by evaluations. They need to know it’s coming, because evaluations are scary for everyone, even if they are purely positive.
Are you trying to get rid of me?What is the structure of the process? That makes everything predictable and keeps it under control.Who is evaluating me? Does the evaluation “have teeth?”How often will I have to do this?
Evaluations do not have to involve reams of intimidating forms for volunteers. They can be as simple as worksheets with several questions on them. Also, self-evaluations might be useful and will give the volunteer manager some insight into the volunteer’s self-perception. Self-evaluations will also give the volunteer manager a jumping off point to talk about those perceived weaknesses and good performance examples.
It is difficult to initiate a counseling session with a paid employee who is underperforming. It is doubly difficult to call a volunteer onto the carpet for poor performance. The first step to getting comfortable with this type of situation is to understand that anything a volunteer does should benefit the library. It is not our job, nor does it fit with the missions of main-stream libraries of any type, to sacrifice library service or efficiency to “give” someone a volunteer opportunity. For instance, if a college aged volunteer comes to work in the library to either work court ordered hours or to fill a service organization requirement, then (s)he should not be permitted to lounge in the magazine room and text her friends. Or nap. When you have a volunteer who is taking advantage of the library, it is inappropriate behavior for anyone representing the library and needs to be addressed.
Mng vols drr_instr_2011-05-09
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Using this Software • Microphone • Text chat • Raising your • Audio hand • Full Screen • Green / Red X • Exiting • Stepping outCentra opened on your desktop
Learning ObjectivesBy the end of this class, participants will be able to – Reduce or eliminate tension between paid staff and volunteers – Develop tactics to motivate, retain and reward volunteers – Delegate duties to volunteers – Guide volunteers through organizational change
Why do we need volunteers?Assist with Improve customerrepetitive tasks service• Keep collection • One-on-one looking neat computer• Shelve, Shelf-read assistance• Presort recent • Help with program check-ins or event• Barcode • Call re: overdues or• Process withdrawals holds • Information desk
What does a volunteer cost?• TINSTAAFV (There Is No Such Thing As A Free Volunteer)• Benefits: hourly costs of paid staff• Consider costs – Insurance – Time of those staff who develop, interview, orient and train volunteers – Other?
Paid staff and volunteers: Are aware Must be of each able to other‘s work authority together. levels. See each Empower other as each other. equals.
Paid staff: Give inputHave same in goals as developingvolunteers. volunteer positions.Have hand Understand in training role ofvolunteers. volunteers.
Volunteers:Understand Help meet roles patrons‘ relative to needs. paid staff. AreHave goals qualified to related to effectively library‘s serve mission. patrons.
Delegation Manager’s Role:• Know volunteer‘s skills, talents and interests• Delegate work accordingly – IT professional • Help re-design website? Build a database? – Graphic design student • Design flyers for a library event or program? – Publishing/editing professional • Help with collection development? Lead book group?
Balancing Everyone‘s Needs • Mission-driven • Strategic – Based on long- range planOrganizational Needs • Goal-driven – Increase number of checkouts – Gate count – Programming
Balancing Everyone‘s Needs • Demographics – Who are they?Constituents‘ • Detailed on patron Needs comment cards • Indicated by requests • Varied
Balancing Everyone‘s Needs • Community involvement • Sense of ―givingVolunteers‘ back‖Motivation • Social networking • New in town • Dealing with loss • What else?
The Ideal Balance Organizational NeedsVolunteers‘ Needs ofMotivation Constituent s Needs of Paid Staff
The Real Balance Organizational Needs Needs of Paid Constituents‘ Staff Needs Volunteers‘ Volunteers‘Motivation—drift Motivation— toward Staff drift toward Needs Patrons‘ Needs
Balancing Everyone‘s Needs • Organization mayInfluence of have its own needs Volunteer • Gives volunteers a Group or sense of autonomy Friends • Not same as your Board or Trustees
Balancing Everyone‘s Needs Needs of Paid Needs of Staff Constituents Organizational Needs Influence of Volunteers‘ Volunteer Motivation Group or Friends
MotivationGet to know a •Help with programs new •Work with the public community Stay sharp •Intellectual tasksafter retirement •Use RA database to find read-alikes Know what •Help with orderingnew books are •Write order cards, check over PO‘s coming out
Structure of Friends Relationships• Do all volunteers have to be members of the Friends group?• Do all Friends have to donate volunteer hours?• Are there other avenues of service besides the Friends group?• Is the Friends group the only avenue to becoming a board member?
Policies• What are your training requirements?• Are there attendance guidelines?• Do you accept volunteers from other organizations?• What risk-management is in place? Insurance?• What benefits/perks?• What changes might be required?
PoliciesIf there are Friends volunteers and volunteers outside of the Friends:• Who acts as volunteer manager for each group?• Do they have the same use of library space?• Do they get the same perks? – Meeting room use – Fine forgiveness
Ethics• Using volunteers to replace paid staff? – Yes, no, maybe?• Okay to recruit MLIS-educated volunteers? – Yes, no, maybe?• What‘s unethical? Questionable?
Managing Change• Explain and contextualize change and its necessity• Discuss effects/outcomes• Ask for reactions and input – Ideas for improvement? – Clarify misunderstandings• Consider necessary skills for new environment
Retaining• Safe & consistent work environment• Meaningful work – Relates to mission of organization – Not ―busy work‖• Some level of control over the assignments• Respect from management & paid staff
RetainingRecognition Award activities ceremoniesMeasurement Professional of service development
Retaining: Give it away.TrustInvitation to contributeTasksResponsibilities
Evaluations of Volunteers• Advise volunteer in interview or orientation of evaluation routines• Provide regular feedback about volunteer is performing• Ask for feedback from volunteer – Learn what the volunteer thinks/feels about the job• Lay the groundwork for exploring possible new volunteer duties
Volunteers need to know: The process Why they are • Schedule • Frequencybeing evaluated • Who will perform • Who has input Possible outcomes
Informal Evaluations• Open-ended questions• Explore relationships with paid staff• Probe relationships with supervisors• Areas of weakness/training needs?• Strengths – Examples of good or exceptional performance?
Evaluation Outcomes• Identify training opportunities for all staff and volunteers• Get a read on volunteer program as a whole• Formally affirm volunteers‘ reasons for giving their time• Document progress – Improve performance by discussing negative feedback from supervisors or staff
Thank You for Attending!Questions/Comments• 1.800.999.8558• 1.720.215.2180• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org We’d very much appreciate your thoughts about the class. http://www.lyrasis.org/Classes-and-Events/Class- Evaluation.aspx
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