Discover the keys to effective team management in ministry. From training to delegation and communication, learn how to lead with confidence.
The Secrets To Managing Volunteers
The closet had been completely organized, much to my delight and surprise. I never thought it would be accomplished, but our dedicated volunteers sacrificed a Sunday afternoon to sort through years of supplies for faith formation and youth ministry. They not only did a fantastic job, but they also enjoyed the process.
This wasn't our first attempt to organize the multi-purpose room closet we shared with the school. Previous volunteers had tried rearranging items, but it never resulted in a truly organized space. However, it wasn't their fault. I hadn't managed their time effectively or provided clear communication.
Instead of blaming the volunteers for an ineffective job, I realized that the problem lay in poor management. Over the years, I've discovered that successful volunteer management boils down to a few core principles that all leaders should embrace:
PRIORITIZE EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND CLEAR EXPECTATIONS
You can never be too clear in your communication and expectations. When your team knows what is expected of them, they approach their tasks with confidence. It may seem like extra work, but creating job descriptions for each team member, outlining their tasks, commitment, and overall purpose, provides the clarity they need to excel.
Regular training, not just in terms of content, but also in handling unexpected situations, helps volunteers grow as enthusiastic disciples who can confidently share their faith. By training them, you communicate what you want them to do and how you want them to behave.
Furthermore, it's crucial to encourage your volunteers to share their feedback and ideas. Effective management involves open dialogue and clear communication from both sides. When you invite your team to share their insights and perspectives, you can identify and address any misalignment before it becomes a problem. Prioritizing communication fosters better teamwork.
EVERYONE NEEDS A LITTLE ENCOURAGEMENT AND AFFIRMATION
Your volunteers deserve recognition and encouragement. They have bailed you out, gone beyond their comfort zones, and supported you countless times. Even if you can only think of one person, make sure they know that you appreciate them. Personally, my favorite aspect of management is showing recognition and providing encouragement to my team. It not only affirms their excellent work but also helps them understand their purpose.
Take the time to get to know your team beyond their names. Learn about their interests, favorite restaurants, or hobbies, and periodically ask about those topics. When expressing gratitude through gifts, tailor them to reflect their interests. Show that you are attentive and interested in their lives.
Encourage social interactions among your team members. In addition to regular training sessions, organize more enjoyable activities like bowling or going out to eat. Focus on team building and creating a supportive atmosphere where everyone cares for one another. When your team feels a sense of warmth and camaraderie, they will recognize that they are part of a community they want to remain in.
INVEST IN YOUR VOLUNTEERS LIKE THEY ARE TAKING YOUR JOB
Remember that you won't be in your position forever, and you shouldn't have the mentality that you will be. If you do, you risk controlling everything and building a ministry that relies solely on your gifts and talents. By investing in your team, consider who could potentially take your place. It doesn't mean they will, but adopting this mentality will help you nurture effective leaders.
As you build trust with your team members, give them responsibilities that involve supervising others and managing large projects. Coach them through the process, demonstrating what you do while inviting them to add their own approaches. Along the way, regularly check in with them, seeking their insights, addressing concerns, and noting their observations. Discuss and guide them, helping them take more ownership. Don't assume that they will grasp everything right away or that what is obvious to you is obvious to them. Gradually relinquish control and delegate management to others. You will discover that as your