The 6 No-no’s of Successful Delegation Part 2: Never Ask for Volunteers

In the last post, I wanted you to understand why you shouldn’t do it yourself. You CAN help out but as the leader, your job it to oversee the work being done, offering encouragement & guidance. In this post, I’m going to tell you something you may not believe & then appear to thoroughly contradict myself!

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NEVER ASK for Volunteers

This doesn’t mean you won’t NEED volunteers. However, the least effective way of recruiting help for your group or event is by making a public plea for volunteers.

We’ve all seen it. Sitting in church on Sunday morning when some poor shlub has to stand in front of the congregation to ask for help. Sometimes, they are almost on the knees pleading for someone, anyone to volunteer. Why doesn’t this work?

First, EVERYBODY is busy. They are all sitting there listing the things they have to do that prevent them from helping out.

Second, everybody assumes someone else will do it.

Finally, people like to be asked! The big fundraiser at my church is an event I had led for the last 4 years. When the new women’s ministry was created, I turned the event over to them. I began hearing there were problems within the group & it looked like the fundraiser would be cancelled. You might wonder why I didn’t volunteer to help out. Simple! No one asked me. Now, this isn’t a matter of hurt feelings or being a mean. When no one asked, I assumed they had a different way they wanted to do things. A new group was in charge. I stepped back & let them run it the way they saw fit.

People like to be asked! It shows them you specifically want them to help do a certain task. It shows you feel they have the qualifications to handle the job. It also allows you to overcome any objections they may have. “Yes, everyone is very busy. That’s why we are dividing the event up into smaller parts so no one is overwhelmed by a large time commitment!” Ask them face to face & your level of success increases greatly!

A final note: Henrietta Mears, late director of Christian Education at Hollywood Presbyterian Church & founder of Gospel Light Publishing always advised against a pulpit call for volunteers. She noted this seemed to be the most popular way to recruit Sunday School teachers. Even back when she was running a very large Sunday School that had multiple classrooms for each grade, she never did a pulpit request for teachers. She felt this often attracted the wrong people to the job. Not that you would get terrible people, just people with their own agendas. Often, individuals volunteer to oversee something in an organization because they ¬†believe THEY can run it better. “I know how this should be done & this is my chance to show them how they SHOULD be doing it!” This brings on more headaches than it cures. You may also have situations where people volunteer to help because the volunteering is what gives them the warm fuzzy feeling. Unfortunately, they have no aptitude when it comes to follow through. Determine what needs to be done, the skills needed to do, then ask people qualified to do the job. Putting in time at the beginning saves you time, & pain, later!

How do YOU ask people to help with an event? What problems have you had when you call for volunteers?

Mentoring New Leaders Part 4: Train

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Your mentoree has watched you in action. You have explained to them how you do things & answered their questions about your techniques. You have given them the opportunity to try to do it themselves & had them tell you about the experience. Now it is time to train them to do it better.

I would like to differentiate between teach & train for the purposes of this material. When I talk about teach someone, I’m referring to more of a lecture type situation. You explain a subject in detail & take questions from the students. At this point, they may have no practical experience on the subject. Training comes after the student or mentoree has had the opportunity to apply the lessons they have learned through your teaching. Now they have practical experience however, they need their abilities refined. They are more apprentices than masters in the field. To give a broad example, medical school teaches students about medicine. They have the opportunity, through internships, to test what they have learned. Eventually, they move on to a residency where they receive more detailed training to refine their skills & abilities.

When the disciples would return from the mission trips Jesus sent them on, Jesus would take time to debrief them. He listened as they told Him what worked & what didn’t. They told Him about any problems they had. This debriefing is more for the mentor than the student. It gives the mentor the opportunity to discover areas that need more focus or topics that are confusing. It also helps the mentor understand things that simply don’t work anymore. If the mentor has been doing a task for years, there may be a newer or at least easier way to do it nowadays. You always need to listen carefully to your student. Your task as a mentor is to turn a job, position, etc. over to them. Unless you want to keep on doing it until you are gone, you need to help them discover the way that works best for them. That means combining your way & their way.

Training allows you to break bad habits before they begin, strengthen good habits & help your student discover the best way to do it for themselves.

One more step in the process & you’re ready to begin!