Why We’re All Working With Volunteers

and why that's a good thing

I can’t remember the first time I led a team, but I know I was leading volunteers.

It’s one of the extraordinary things about volunteering in community organisations and churches – you get all kinds of opportunities you might not otherwise get to learn skills, including leadership skills. I led volunteers, followed volunteers and worked as a volunteer, for years, before I ever led in a professional setting.

But I would argue that even when everyone is getting paid, there’s a degree to which we’re all working with volunteers, whatever our roles.

Excellence vs Perfectionism

My experience has been that a culture of perfectionism in a team is toxic, and ultimately leads to lower outcomes overall, while a culture of excellence leads to both team health and great outcomes.

So how do we distinguish between the two?

Where is the line between excellence and perfectionism?

The Three Tensions of Virtual Collaboration

Getting things done in today’s world means getting things done virtually.

virtual collaboration

You may be part of a not-for-profit that needs to manage volunteers with their own day jobs. You might work in a traditional co-located office but partner with companies in other locations. Perhaps, like me, you’re part of an international team working across distance and timezones. Many of us, in different ways, now need to be able to get people to work together to achieve outcomes, but can’t just pull them into a conference room whenever we need them to hash out a problem or plan.

I have a bit of a working theory that there are often three tensions at play when we do this, and that being deliberate about our priorities and expectations as we manage those tensions can help us choose the best approach for a given situation.

Why you might be making more progress than you think

I came to the end of a week recently, and I felt as though, even though I had given it my all, there was still so much not done.

progress

Maybe you know the feeling.

Maybe you’ve recently finished off a week, or even the year, and felt as thought there was so much more you would have liked to have accomplished.

But then I realised something.