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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 105
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

2012 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

A warm welcome to all volunteer managers-those of you who recruit, motivate and mobilize volunteer workers.

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In This Issue
  1. Featured Article: How Can Millennials Lead Older Generations-Some Quick Tips
  2. Personal Note: Volunteering In Uganda-from the perspective of a volunteer
Featured Article: How Can Millennials Lead Older Generations-Some Quick Tips
By Thomas McKee

I got this question in response to our January Newsletter about the "Texting Generation". Kristin's-a 28 year old-question reminded me that we so often write about how my generation can lead the younger generation, but how often do we give hints on how the younger generation can lead my generation. Thank you, Kristin for raising the question.

The Question:


First and foremost thank you for providing these amazing newsletters to get leaders thinking about how to empower and utilize volunteers efficiently. I am very interested in your most recent conversation covering the texting generation.

I am one of the texting generation, yet I am a leader of a congregation that is composed largely of members who are not. I think that our congregation could learn much and bring more into our mission and work if we were able to live into the message that you shared. Just a side, I have also read The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer, and am working to share that with other staff leaders and begin implementing elements.

My personal struggle is how do I (a 28 year old, texting pastor) lead and empower the older volunteer; and how do I help lead a congregation where both exist. Your book has much to offer in general, but any quick tips on how I can better understand the other perspective? An interesting tidbit about our congregation-we are a three person pastoral staff, 2 of us are 28 year old females and our head of staff is in his 50s; yet most of our congregation is either young families (though this isn't the largest portion) or retired (vast m ajority).

Thanks again for your service and the work you do to help the rest of us better serve our missions.



My response from one of the Paul McCartney "When I am 64" generation -- who are actually now somewhat older than 64.

Hi Kristin--

That is a great question. Thanks for asking. And I commend you for wanting to better understand other generational perspectives. Too many leaders are stuck in their own generational silos and never want to venture out to new leadership methods, and/or they want every other generation to adapt to their leadership method.

I have six suggestions for you about better understanding other generational perspectives and how to lead and empower across generational lines.

Six Ways to Lead Older Generations... Without Stepping on Their Toes

  1. First, please be patient with my generation. We often are late adopters. You are talking about change. Today change is happening so fast that we are often overwhelmed. And as William Bridges says, "It's not the change that does us in-it's the transition." We will get there, but the transition is sometimes slow.

  2. Second, try this communication exercise. If you are ever leading a discussion, divide the group up into classic generational groups Millennials, Gen-Xers, Boomers, etc. Then ask each group to come up with a list of what the other generational groups in the room bring to your organization (church) and what you can learn from them. When you frame the question in this positive way, it is exciting to hear each group praise each other rather than grip about each other. This discussion can often be a foundation to understanding. Listening and understanding are the beginning to serving each other.

  3. Third, when it comes to communication, give everyone several options to communicate-printed page, telephone, e-mail, text, twitter, Facebook. Airlines give me the option of phones, email and text to inform me of my upcoming flights. My HMO does the same for my appointments.

  4. Fourth, the greatest influence on my generation is our grandchildren. Do you know why I started texting? I sent an e-mail to my 16 year old granddaughter. She didn't answer so I asked her, "Alyssa, did you get my e-mail?" She chuckled, "Papa, e-mail is so old school. I hardly ever check my e-mail. Either text me or send me a message on Facebook." So I started texting to keep in touch with my granddaughter, and now I text all the time. Thank you Alyssa for bringing me into the 21st century.

  5. Fifth, as a communicator we must remember to consider our audience. That is why I commend you for wanting to better understand your older generational perspective. So often I want my listeners to adopt my method of framing the message, when in actuality I need to use my listener's communication style to make sure I get my message across. If I want to make my point to someone who doesn't speak English, I can't expect them to learn English. I need to learn their language or get a translator. If I want someone from the "texting generation" to get my message, I need to adapt my communication style. And if you want someone from my generation to get your message, you need to adopt your communication style to my style.

  6. Six, Empower. I love the way you asked, "How can I lead and empower?" None of us want to be micro managed, no matter what generation. As a young leader, when you give me the opportunity to lead a project or event for you, sit down with me (I love meeting at Starbucks), and we can define the three elements of event management-the (1) scope of the event, (2) the budget that I have to work with and (3) the schedule-when each stage needs to be done. Once we have defined those three elements together, then empower me to get it done. That means you turn me loose to follow those three guidelines and get it done. I can recruit my team and make it happen. And when you check in with me to see how it is going, ask the empowerment questions, (1) How is it going? (2) How I help you? When you ask me that second question you are demonstrating to me that you want to help me in away way you can to make it happen. You are demonstrating that you are a team player-not a boss.
Perhaps you have caught a theme to my answer to your question. It is communication. Communication is a constant challenge, and the methods are changing almost daily. Getting your point across is difficult in our information-overload culture. And remember the old but true adage of communication in a non-profit organization-especially churches. The saying goes, "It takes five times using five different methods to get an announcement across. And on the fifth time some will say, `I've never heard that before.'" Ever have that happen? I have. For example, you make an announcement at a meeting, then mail out a letter, follow up with a short video clip at your meetings (or Youtube), then make phone calls, and finally send out a mass e-mail or tweet. And then some people will still say, "I didn't know that."

Hang in there, Kristin. Today it's texting and microblogging. In ten to twenty years all those 20-somethings will be trying to get you to communicate through a whole new medium, and who knows what that will be. Hopefully they will want to understand your perspective. I sure hope so.

Hope this helps.


On a Personal Note:

I leave this Thursday (Feb 16th) to serve on a two-week volunteer project in Uganda, Africa. I've been studying, reading, and trying to learn all I can about Uganda and expect to learn tons about the people who volunteer and serve in there. I'll give a report next month on what I learn, how I was recruited (a lesson in recruiting) and how I was managed (empowered) to serve. I am not the leader on this team and looking forward to this volunteer experience. I have already learned so much in preparation, but I expect that my learning has only begun.

Volunteer Power Key-Notes, Workshops, Or An Education Day
The New Breed of Volunteer
A Volunteer Power Workshop
Recruiting and leading the 21st Century volunteers who want to do it their way

Workshop Content

The questions: Volunteerism is hot. From American Idol, Disneyland, Glee, Lady Gaga, President Obama to Wells Fargo, Intel and Wal-Mart, giving back is the rage.

  • How do we take advantage of this trend in our organization?
  • How do we mobilize the passion and power of volunteers in a culture that sometimes stifles passion and professionalism because management only allows volunteers to stuff envelops?
The answer: A 21st Century leadership strategy. We need to know how to impact our volunteer culture so that we can recruit and empower a whole new breed of volunteers.

The 21st century volunteer culture is very different because of tectonic shifts that have changed volunteer leadership. These shifts have impacted the volunteer organization; therefore, how we recruit and lead the New Breed of volunteer is a whole new game. The tectonic shifts include the following:

  • Twitch Speed - The core characteristic of Lady Gaga is speed. She is doing in 10 minutes what it took Madonna ten years to achieve. How nimble is your organization in responding to today's volunteers?
  • Generations - Gen Y and retiring boomers-the new frontier of volunteers
  • Technology - The addition of social networks as a leadership tool
  • Empowerment - The knowledge worker demands to be led - not managed
  • Slacktivism - Getting involved with the click of a mouse
  • Episodic Volunteering - Sign up for only short-term projects or only when unemployed
A LEADER OF VOLUNTEERS STRATEGY: In this workshop you will learn ...
  • How to manage change: How to interpret a changing culture
  • How to empower the volunteer without dropping the ball
  • How to coach your volunteers instead of manage them: The four stages of coaching
  • How to frame your recruiting message in order to transition slactivists and episodic volunteers into valuable non-paid staff
Contact us to book a workshop, key-note presentation.

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