LOVING YOUR VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT PAPERWORK
Policies and procedures.
Don’t you just love ‘em?!
Well, of course, most people don’t!
(And, being honest, most people don’t even read them).
But, for my sins, I’m a lawyer, and here's a confession: I’ve always actually thoroughly enjoyed reading and writing such documents.
Because out of a blank page on a screen (or piece of paper!), you can create, shape, mould and hone one of the most critical elements to any organization.
The words on the page – and, more importantly – how they’re breathed into life in the hustle and bustle of our busy world today, can release your club, your charity, into meeting and extending into your mission.
CONFIDENTIALITY AND TRUST
As a lawyer, if you and I we were meeting for the first time, with you as my prospective client, and me as your lawyer, I’d explain the concept of a lawyer’s duty of confidentiality.
In short: what you tell your lawyer, stays with your lawyer, unless you ask them to tell someone else.
(Of course, there are some narrow exceptions to this rule, as you’d expect when it comes to something to do with lawyers! But the broad point remains).
Why is this relevant?
Well, a solicitor-client relationship is one that is fundamentally built on trust.
And that involves not only talking about the things that are going well in one’s life, one’s family, one’s company, one’s club, one’s charity – but also being able to talk openly about those things that are, well, perhaps not going so well.
A PROCESS OF CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENT
This sentence is quoted from the Football Association of Ireland’s template code of practice for football clubs (emphasis added):
It is essential that this document represents a process of continual improvement in the area of child protection and welfare in soccer.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE SITUATION
Grassroots clubs and charities won’t shout this from the rooftops, but when you speak to them in confidence, there’s often an acknowledgment that, as good as their policies and procedures currently are, there’s usually a way to travel to where they want to get to.
But here’s the point: to get to where you want to get to, you have clearly know where you currently are.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Some organisations are already doing everything that they should be doing, and they should be applauded for doing so.
But many aren’t quite there yet.
And that’s the ‘trust’ point.
HEALTH-CHECKING YOUR ORGANISATION
Ultimately, you must do a health-check within your organisation, and:
- see what your policies and procedures ask you to do, and
- see if you’re doing that – or not.
However, once you’ve identified:
- (a) where you currently are and
- (b) where you want to get to
then your next job is:
- (c) assemble the team that’s going to help you get from (a) to (b).
THE FLYWHEEL EFFECT
Who’s going to be part of that team?
Jim Collins is an American leadership and change management teacher, and has written seminal publications about what make great companies tick.
One of his books is called Good to Great, access them here:
Right now, the flywheel is at a standstill. To get it moving, you make a tremendous effort. You push with all your might, and finally you get the flywheel to inch forward. After two or three days of sustained effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster. It takes a lot of work, but at last the flywheel makes a second rotation. You keep pushing steadily. It makes three turns, four turns, five, six. With each turn, it moves faster, and then—at some point, you can’'t say exactly when—you break through. The momentum of the heavy wheel kicks in your favor. It spins faster and faster, with its own weight propelling it. You aren't pushing any harder, but the flywheel is accelerating, its momentum building, its speed increasing.
Good to Great
And the flywheel in your organisation?
YOUR VOLUNTEER FLYWHEEL
Well, if you rely upon volunteers, you want to attract more people to volunteering with your organisation; to get them involved quicker; to get them enjoying the experience more; and fulfilling the mission of your organisation in a more effective way.
GETTING THE RIGHT PEOPLE ON THE BUS
DISCIPLINED PEOPLE: “WHO” BEFORE “WHAT”
You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going. You have to decide where you're going, how you're going to get there, and who's going with you.
Most people assume that great bus drivers (read: business leaders) immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they're going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision.
In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline—first the people, then the direction—no matter how dire the circumstances. Take David Maxwell’s bus ride. When he became CEO of Fannie Mae in 1981, the company was losing $1 million every business day, with $56 billion worth of mortgage loans underwater. The board desperately wanted to know what Maxwell was going to do to rescue the company.
Maxwell responded to the “what” question the same way that all good-to-great leaders do: He told them, That’s the wrong first question. To decide where to drive the bus before you have the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus, is absolutely the wrong approach.
Maxwell told his management team that there would only be seats on the bus for A-level people who were willing to put out A-plus effort. He interviewed every member of the team. He told them all the same thing: It was going to be a tough ride, a very demanding trip. If they didn’t want to go, fine; just say so. Now’s the time to get off the bus, he said. No questions asked, no recriminations. In all, 14 of 26 executives got off the bus. They were replaced by some of the best, smartest, and hardest-working executives in the world of finance.
Good to Great
So, what are the lessons for you and your organisation?
It’s all well and good acknowledging that you’re at point (a) and that you want to get to point (b) as an organisation.
But, without the right people on the bus, that journey’s going to be hard to make.
So, once you know where are, and where you need to get to, you’ve going to ask yourself:
Have you got the right people on your own bus?
If not, be careful how you start the journey.
You’d be well advised to making sure that you have the right people on the bus, even if that means taking a bit of time to get the team together.
And remember that the people who are going to be part of your 'A-team', may not necessarily look much like the people who've been involved your organisation before.
In fact, that's often a good clue, if you're attracting A-team players who might not have 'fitted in' into your organisation in the past.
Because as the old adage goes, if you want the same results, keep doing exactly what you've alway done.
So, if you're attracting different A-team players in, there's a good chance you can start to expect to see some different results.
WHAT’S YOUR OWN BUS LOOK LIKE?
What does that mean in the area of recruiting volunteers?
Ask yourself, do the people on your volunteer recruitment team understand:
- What you do
- Why you do it
- What happens if you don’t do it properly
- What happens if you do do it properly
So as you think of the job ahead of you, ask yourself:
- Do we have the right people on the bus?
- Are we pushing the volunteer flywheel?
This essay is for general information and guidance purposes only and, just to be clear, does not constitute legal or other professional advice.
You should always seek your own specific legal advice, from a firm of solicitors, on the application of the law in a situation.
Whilst we used reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy of this content, we do not accept any liability for any omissions or errors; or for any action taken in reliance of the information in this essay.