How do you get the right volunteers on the bus and in the right seats without losing the whole team?
The goal is to first start with a great group of people, then determine what you are going to do with them. This is never easy, but it feels next-to-impossible when you work with a volunteer workforce.
Jim juxtaposes this with the “Genius with a Thousand Helpers” scenario, where the leader determines where he or she wants to go, then finds people who can implement the vision.
Many leaders, when faced with an organization of mediocrity, think it is their job to bring the energy, vision, and focus so the organization can move forward.
This is especially true when they are leading in a volunteer-focused situation.
Your Magic Bus in 7 Steps
If you are working with a volunteer force, here are some simple ways you can help people find their right seat on the bus without abandoning the journey.
1) Take Inventory
The most important thing you can do in a volunteer organization is to get to know your people.
- Who is just holding down the fort?
- Who has been marginalized?
- Who has energy and focus?
- Who doesn’t?
- Who is hanging around, waiting for someone to ask for their help?
Take time to get to know the people in your sphere of influence individually.
Discover their passions, their dreams, their time and energy availability.
2) Who is Already in the Right Seat?
Some people are already in the right seat.
- Love what they are doing
- Aren’t bringing negative energy
- Are ready for something new
Affirm these people. Let them know they are valued, and find ways to thank them regularly.
When you are ready to move forward, this group might be the first to sense the new direction you should take.
(Note that once you finish getting everyone in the right seats, you will have to circle back to this group to make sure they are still in the right places.)
3) Look for Sticky Seats
Look for the people who have created silos of power within the organization. Most power silos exist because someone was very passionate, had a great vision, and created a great program (or ministry).
Every program or ministry has a life-cycle, but without redirection, leaders of success can tend to build walls around their project so no one else would break it down.
The best way to help people in power silos find new direction is NOT to tell them you have a great idea for them to follow (Genius with a Thousand Helpers).
Instead, imagine you are sitting next to them in a car…
- They are in the driver’s seat.
- Instead of driving for them, point out the road signs.
People who have created a successful program (ministry) in the past can do so again if they understand the new climate.
Show them the world as it is today.
5) Look for Slippery Seats
The people on slippery seats keep passing into your view and out of it. They are definitely on the bus, but they feel like they have no place to sit.
You might find them volunteering in multiple areas, being generous contributors without any real responsibilities, or they might be showing up at most functions and just criticizing.
The people in the slippery seats are on the bus for a reason. They get value from being part of your group. Take time to get to know them as individuals –
- What keeps them coming back?
- What is their character like?
- What is their energy like (do they have time and energy to give)?
- Are they introverts or extroverts?
- What is their love language (gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, service, touch)?
- How do they learn (audio, visual, kinesthetic)?
These are details that will help you identify what seat on your bus this person should be on.
You will find leaders, excellent managers, and individual contributors in these seats.
Help them identify what level of leadership they are ready for, and then find a place for them.
7) Keep the Door Open
Once you have moved leadership, broken down the power silos, and helped the people in the slippery seats settle down, you will discover you have some empty seats. And you will find some people who don’t want to be on your bus anymore.
Live a life of grace. Help the people who want to leave find a great place to use their energy.
The door isn’t just open so people can leave. Also keep the door open so that new people can come in. Take time to get to know them, similarly to how you got to know the sticky and slippery seat people, and help them find their place.
Once you have people settled onto the bus in the seats they were designed to be in, a vision will begin to materialize. It won’t be just your vision. You have fantastic people in your organization, and you have positioned them to use their gifts to the best of their abilities.
As they move together, they will sense the bus is supposed to take, and everyone will be headed in the same direction.
Are you in an organization that needs new direction? Have you done an inventory to discover who is on your bus and why? How have you dealt with power silos in your organization? What ways to you engage the people on the “slippery seats?”
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders™
Kim Martinez is the Lead Writer and Innovator at Deep Imprints
She teaches leaders to lead with influence in a world that distrusts leaders
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Skype: kimkmartinez
Image Sources: physical-therapy.advanceweb.com