Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Volunteers: 1 requirement, 1 expectation.

I've worked a lot of years doing broadcast production in the non-profit arena. Since 2001, full time, plus some.

When I designed the workflow for the video broadcast systems for Redemption Church, and now for Relentless Church, I made room for more people doing simple tasks. It can take 13 to 15 people to run the broadcast video control room at various stations. IMAG operators and directors, camera shaders, streaming engineers, directors and tech directors. Volunteers do most everything and they're good at it. And, they're good people, by the way.

The entire production could be handled by 5 professionals, but instead, I opened up opportunities for volunteers to help. I created opportunities for people to step up and do what they love to do, or what they want to learn to do. It relieved the performance pressure of those 4 or 5 professionals and pushed them to invest in the team and help them get the production done.

When you have a few shows a month you can get away with a 4 person production crew. When you do 4 or 5 productions a week for 20 years you're faced with choosing other strategies.
You figure out real quick developing, training, and delegating to volunteers is a vital tactic.

The product is people more than it is production. I think people are a worthy investment and effort. They last a lot longer than a production job does.

Developing and managing people is harder for me to do than the engineering. I'm still not the best at it and I'm still learning.

We all know it's a challenge to manage people when it's "all carrot and no stick." Leaders have to reach deep into their own commitment, character, and integrity to lead volunteers. It's those deep personal virtues that really count in leadership, not the organizational rules. Volunteers don't have employment contracts. If they don't want to volunteer, you can't make them stick around.

For my volunteers, I have only one requirement and one expectation. The explanation goes something like this:

The one requirement for volunteers: Show up.

If you say you're going to be there, have the integrity to honor your word and be there. The whole production team depends on you to do your part.
It doesn't matter if it's just one day in the next year. I need to know what that day is and that I can count on you to be there on time.

The one expectation for volunteers: Don't do worse than last time.

You don't have to make great progress in what you're doing, in fact, you don't even have to make any progress. Just don't backslide. Once you get good at doing your task, then just make it a little better each time. It's a subtle way to implement continuous improvement. It's an overt way to extend patience and grace to committed volunteers.