Our Training and Programmes Manager, Stuart Garland, reminds us of the importance of listening and learning from others this International Volunteer Managers Day. Join the conversation on social media using #IMVDay18.

Any of you who follow me on Twitter will sometimes see me use the hashtag #AlwaysLearning.  You may have heard me refer to myself as a Volunteer Management & Leadership Specialist, never an expert. I am always listening to other stories and experiences both locally and internationally.

If I am delivering training on some element of volunteer management and I ask the question “Does anyone have a challenging volunteer and can you tell me about the challenge?” there is usually a stony silence before someone finally gives in with a story that starts with “Well I had this challenge once…” Then a few minutes into the story others in the room begin to nod with agreement or throw their eyes to the sky and say “I’ve a volunteer just like that and this is how I dealt with them…” All of a sudden people are vying for airtime to tell their challenging story.

Sometimes we aren’t that open to share our stories about challenging volunteers or volunteer management issues. I’ll often get a phone call that goes something like this. “I need to talk to you confidentially about this situation … please never tell anyone … I can’t tell you our organisation” The reality is that I’ve heard this exact story already, and probably as recent as no more than a month ago.

We all make mistakes, and hopefully we learn and become more mature.  We may think that another Volunteer Involving Organisation is better than us, in reality we are all dealing with the same situations, what we do and how we react to these challenges is what differentiates a quality volunteer programme from a poor one. It is also about the processes or procedures you have in place to deal with those challenges, without creating an overly burearatic programme full of red tape.

We can all learn from each other. I don’t claim to be an expert in Volunteer Management in Leadership. I am just a specialist in the area. I am #AlwaysLearning and so should you. Never miss out on opportunities to talk to and learn from others in our field.

The role of a Volunteer Manager is often a lonely one, one person in charge of a group of volunteers. Reach out and talk to your fellow Volunteer Managers, talk to us in Volunteer Ireland.

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