Home Outreach Leaders Articles for Outreach & Missions The 1-2-3 of Making Your Volunteers Happy

The 1-2-3 of Making Your Volunteers Happy

When it comes to any job, training is so important. In my days at UPS, I became a supervisor at the experienced old age of 19. In order to become a supervisor, you had to go through a week long supervisor training seminar. It was interactive, competitive and informative. The only thing was that not everyone took it seriously. The ones that did eventually went on to become pretty good leaders and the others needed help.

The thing that overwhelmed me in that training was the amount of material they made available to us.

They cared that their people did the work well.

In the same way, we need to invest in proper training for the volunteers in our ministry.

Here are some of the things that you should contemplate when coming up with a plan to train your volunteers.

3 Types of Training

1. Initial Training

This is the type of training that I described above that I received before I was placed in my role. I received training that helped me feel more prepared for my role. It covered the vision and history of the company, the essential nontask related characteristics of a supervisor, expectations, and tools required to complete your job.

This training is in place to help a volunteer feel prepared and passionate about your organization. You can’t cover everything, but you need to cover the basics.

2. On the Job Training

This training can only occur on the job. This training needs to be accompanied by supporting leadership. It’s not enough to just do the job. You need to know if you are doing it effectively. This is something that I have seen done in a lot of ways in different ministries.

  • Checklists
  • Goals
  • Modeling and Supervision

Ultimately, your volunteers need experience and they need good learning experiences alongside someone that has been there before.

3. Leadership Training

This is the tier that I struggle with the most. I have a hard time leaving some volunteers behind and focusing on the ones that I need to focus on. I clearly have some unbelievable leaders in my ministry, but sometimes I tend to focus on all rather than the leaders who are truly invested in making themselves and our ministry better.

You have to provide opportunities that only the best of the best can receive in training. Make it worthwhile for someone who wants to get better.

In staff meetings, I’ve heard of big time executive leaders being skyped in meetings. I’m not sure how to make this work with volunteer workers, but it’s something I’m brainstorming.

In addition to the three types of training, there are also formats of training that I think you must cover.

Formats of Training

Basic Training

If a volunteer only received this they would be able to complete their job successfully. What does it take in order to do that? What are the basics? Don’t teach the advanced concepts to those that might not be on your team for long. But you must cover the basics.

  • What are they supposed to do?
  • What are the expectations?
  • Policies and procedures
  • No-nos and yes please

Advanced Training

These trainings move you from a volunteer to a leader in my mind. When a volunteer attends a skill training session, it shows that they desire to get better. These are criteria that I often look at when it comes to targeting who should I consider a leader to invest my time in. These trainings cannot be basics. They must be better and more complex and they must answer these three questions:

  • Why does it matter?
  • How can I do it?
  • How do I know if I’m doing it right? What progress should I see?

Generic Training

Generic training is something that can happen regardless of role in the organization. Everyone needs to know leader expectations, policies and procedures, and history and vision and strategy of the organization. You must cover those things with every employee. We also require Sexual Abuse Prevention Training for all of our volunteers.

Specific Training

Check-in volunteers need to be trained differently than small group leaders. The tools and skill sets are very different. Don’t abuse this type of training. Don’t go over check-in related stuff if it’s a small group leader training. It might feel important, but if it’s not appropriate to the format of training it could be frustrating to an emerging leader.

Ultimately, training is an essential part of volunteers improving at their role.