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How to Manage Volunteers from the Volunteer Leaders Conference

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 @ 11:26 AM

keynote speaker for volunteers conference

This friday, February 25, I am the closing keynote speaker at the Ontario Hospital Associations Conference for Volunteer Leaders. The conference is expected to draw approximately 100 leaders of volunteers in the Ontario area for continuing professional development.

I am a speaker for the volunteer leaders on I Love My Job, It's the People I Can't Stand. I interviewed Ms. Deb Folkes Director, Volunteer Resources at The Credit Valley Hospital today to help me understand some of the stress and pressures on leaders of volunteers in Ontario today.

Main sources of stress for volunteer leaders are:

Challenges with scheduling volunteers. As you can imagine, volunteers are a very diverse group and give their time for very unique reasons. The Credit Valley manages a group of over 300 Student volunteers, many of which have aspirations of being physicians and require upwards of 100 Volunteer hours.

Volunteering is a great way for young adults to continue developing professionally, so it is a great draw for students.

At first students may dress inappropriately and tune out with their Ipods (sounds familiar- just like paid workers). Some volunteers may quit after only 2 weeks. After all the paper work involved this is a huge dissappointment. Some students will take vacation, not tell anyone and be a no show on their shift, leaving the volunteer manager scrambling to find someone to cover.

As Debby laments, You think it is hard to manage 2 teenagers, try 400 of them! She says the best way to manage uncommittal teenage volunteers is to have clear and strict guidelines and consequences.

Some doctors want their teenage children to get preferential treatment when they volunteer at their hospital (imagine that). Many teenagers who volunteer in the ER think it will be like Grey's Anatomy and are disappointed when they are stripping beds and stocking medical supplies. Adjusting expectations early on helps prevent volunteer attrition and manage conflict.

One of the biggest challenges with teenage volunteers are their parents. They are entrenched in their offsprings lives. Some parents are constantly defending their teenagers, calling on their behalf and shielding them from taking any responsibility. The best conflict management strategy is to keeps parents in the loop but make it clear it is the volunteer who is ultimately accountable.

Sometimes volunteers feel like hospital staff are rude to them. This type of conflict management is walking a fine line, trying to give a hospital manager feedback and make sure volunteers feel welcome.

I am excited to deliver a motivational speech to the leaders of volunteers, they deserve the inspiration!

Are you struggling to lead a group of volunteers? Here are some resouces to manage conflict..

Tags: conflict management, continuing professional development, speaker for volunteer leaders, Volunteers conference

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