Whether we like it or not, we live in a world full of hierarchy, and job titles lay a key role in how we perceive someone’s importance at an organization. Job titles play a key role in how we perceive someone’s importance at an organization. Titles often imply that volunteers are at the bottom of the organization’s hierarchy.
One of the best ways to recruit a volunteer is to be a volunteer yourself. Remember, Extension is not the only show in town. Other educational, governmental and non-profit organizations will be contacting you to serve on their committees too. Through this collaborative effort, you will soon be recognized as a team player and a community resource. It is amazing how many organizational contacts you will make from this endeavor. Your collaborative effort will open up all kinds of professional opportunities for you. Not only will you obtain greater knowledge of your community, but you will expand your presence in the community and have an opportunity to promote Extension (4-H) and educate other professionals about the many resources available through Extension.
Understand the Concept – An educator’s ability to successfully manage his/her volunteers is greatly influenced by several factors, including experience, training and a personal commitment to the concept of empowering volunteers. In order to empower, one has to share ownership. For some educators, giving up control can be extremely threatening. Set the Rules – There are certain things volunteers should not get involved in. Administrative items need to be left to the administrators, but hey may provide input. Things like agent evaluations, professional salaries, and administrative policies would fall under this category. Putting Your Volunteers to Work – Volunteers can play a vital role in dialoging with decision makers, fund raising, recommending program priorities and being a sound board to the community. Benefits of Empowerment – When Extension educators give their volunteers meaningful assignments, not only with activity level and motivation skyrocket, but the educator receives the satisfaction of knowing he/she has been responsible for developing LEADERSHIP!
Lobbying Efforts – Volunteers are effective in lobbying county officials for additional resources. Program Planning – Give your volunteers the responsibility for planning special programs or events during the year. It is important for the CEA to let them carry out the task and take ownership of the project. Award Recognition – It is important to reward volunteers for a job well done. This can be done with a special public recognition or a simple personal thank you. It is our job as educators and professionals to always make our volunteers feel SPECIAL! Extension Advisory Groups can also be the award givers as well. Public Relations – Feature your volunteers on your radio programs or in your newspaper column (or 4-H newsletter). Also, give them the opportunity to speak in support of Extension in your community. Utilize Special Talents – Each volunteer will bring a special talent to the group. Be observant and recognize these talents. Evaluation – Ask volunteers (committee members) to evaluate different Extension programs and welcome their feedback and comments. Sometimes volunteers can give you a perspective that you have never thought of. Courtesy – Show your appreciation for your volunteers by always having refreshments available during meetings and always follow-up with thank you notes.
Are you always chairing the program committees? Do you lead the meetings as well as write up the minutes? Maybe it’s time to recommend someone else for these duties. Not only does this empower others, it adds to your free time as well.
In most organizations, the days of the leader’s way being the only way are long gone. Don’t look the other way when failures occur, but dwelling on them accomplishes little. Acknowledge them, make improvements or suggestions for the future, highlight the successes and move on!
In some situations, enabling is viewed in a very negative light (i.e. substance abuse). In empowering leadership, however, enabling others can be very positive.
Finally, an empowering leader needs to facilitate accomplishments to the extent possible. This is a critical step in the empowerment process; people need to know they have the support and resources they need to help them accomplish goals.
The benefits to empowerment are numerous, not only to those being empowered, but to the leaders and overall organization as well. Aside from building self-confidence and increasing free time, take a look at some of the other potential benefits.
Empowering Vols South Region University
Engaging Volunteers to lead Programs & Projects Locally<br />Presented by:<br />Courtney Dodd<br />Extension Program Specialist<br />Improving Lives. Improving Texas.<br />
Volunteer Orientation<br />Why is it important?<br />Allows individual to join as an informed equal<br />Motivates volunteer<br />Provides forum for Extension to explain expectations, goals and objectives<br />
Three Parts of Orientation<br />Social Orientation<br />Position Orientation<br />System Orientation<br />
Social Orientation<br />Introduction to county staff<br />Tour of facility/office<br />Explanation of dress code<br />Directions to the break room<br />How to operate the copy machine, fax machine, etc.<br />
System Orientation<br />Mission of Extension<br />Legislation that created and defined Cooperative Extension<br />Program Areas<br />Volunteer Opportunities<br />Policies and Procedures<br />
Position Orientation<br />Overview of roles and responsibilities<br />Review the position description<br />
Volunteer Expectations<br />When a volunteer is a visible representative of Extension, they should:<br />Be prepared<br />Arrive/Finish on time<br />Look the part of a professional<br />Understand it is not only their reputation on the line, but the Extension program’s reputation being evaluated as well<br />Be prepared to have their efforts evaluated<br />
“Just show up and we’ll figure out something for you to do!”<br />
Volunteer Position Descriptions<br />Force volunteer managers to think through and plan the work of their volunteers<br />Reduces risk of volunteers doing something inappropriate<br />Helps prevent a major “no-no” – having volunteers stand around with nothing to do!<br />
A Great Title Sums It Up<br />The most important component!<br />Describe the position and sell it<br />Let it say what they are and what they do<br />Omit the word “volunteer”<br />Add a little humor to the title<br />
Elements of a Position Description<br />Duties<br />Supervisor<br />Location and Schedule<br />Commitment<br />Skills Needed<br />Training Provided<br />Benefits<br />
The Least You Need to Know<br />Don’t recruit volunteers unless everyone is clear about what they’ll be doing first<br />A clear and catchy title for your position will help recruit people<br />Good position descriptions make it clear who acts as they volunteer’s supervisor. <br />Listing the benefits of volunteering sends a message that you value and respect your volunteers<br />Have clear position descriptions for the short-term and spontaneous volunteers<br />
Project Leader Position Descriptions<br />http://texas4-h.org<br />“Projects and Programs”<br />
Empower Yourself to Serve Others<br />Be a volunteer yourself!<br />Recognized as a team player and a community resource<br />Obtain greater knowledge of your community<br />Expand your presence in the community…with an opportunity to promote Extension/4-H<br />
What can I do to empowermy volunteers?<br />Understand the concept<br />Set the rules<br />Put your volunteers to work<br />Reap the benefits<br />
What can I do if my volunteers refuse to be empowered? <br />Take it slow<br />Let them feel your passion and enthusiasm…It’s contagious!<br />If they fail to feel empowered, other problems may exist.<br />
Ideas that Work!<br />Lobbying Efforts<br />Program Planning<br />Award Recognition<br />Public Relations<br />Utilize Special Talents<br />Evaluation<br />Courtesy<br />
Discoverer <br />Continually looking for new opportunities to accomplish the mission<br />A visionary<br />Flexible to change<br />
Illustrator<br />Remember, and remind others, about the goals, values and mission <br />Show your commitment to group goals in the way you approach opportunities or deal with obstacles<br />
Encourager<br />Be supportive<br />Offer reassurance<br />Recognize successes<br />Believe in your volunteers<br />Take a vested interest in their achievements<br />
Enabler<br />Offer a helping hand to boost chances of success. <br />Consider yourself a coach or team-builder<br />
Smoother<br />“Smooth the way” by providing necessary information to complete a task<br />Network to build positive relationships<br />Serve as a resource<br />
Benefits of Empowerment<br />To the followers:<br />Increased motivation<br />Higher degree of learning<br />Improved tolerance of stress<br />To the leaders:<br />Increased organizational commitment<br />Less role ambiguity<br />Increased satisfaction with roles and organization<br />To the organization:<br />More flexibility<br />Better sense of community<br />Requests/problems handled with roles and the organization<br />Group coordination and development<br />
Empowerment<br /> “The one who says it cannot be done should never interrupt the one who is doing it.”<br /> - Anonymous<br />