Volunteer Power News - Number 113
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
Featured Article: The Challenges and Opportunities of Leading Four Generations of Volunteers
The Challenges and Opportunities of Leading Four Generations of Volunteers
By Thomas McKee
He took a seat in the back row, and as he was booting up his MacPro, this 40-something gentleman asked me, "Do we have wireless in this room?" Since most men his age are not very good multi-takers, he would either be with me or the web, but not both. I was facing the challenge to so engage him in the workshop that he would not have time to surf the web. I loved that challenge.
At the same time, several 20-something young women were picking up their welcome packets, visiting with friends whom they had not seen since the last meeting, loading their plates with snacks, getting coffee, and still somehow texting. How I wish I could multi-task like that. I looked across the room and saw a very distinguished 70-something woman reading the handout materials while waiting for her colleague.
I couldn't help but notice the diversity of the group of 120 leaders of volunteers. Their name tags identified that they were from groups such as Make a Wish Foundation, Ronald MacDonald House, Girl Scouts, Colorado Cochlear Implant Community, churches, and some other local groups that I had never heard of before. They were gathering for the Sioux Falls Empire all-day DOVIA (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies) training event. But the diversity of the group was not limited to their organizations. The most obvious diversity that I faced that day was the four different generations. Just as I needed to frame my presentation to participants in their 20s through their 80s, I also knew that each of them would need to utilize different leadership skills to reach across generational lines in their own organizations.
What leadership skills do we need when we are leading a team of volunteers made up of four generational groups? Each one responds to different styles of leadership, and in order to be effective, we need to adapt our leadership style to each age group.
As you listen to statements that I heard from the DOVIA members in Sioux Falls, SD, think about these two questions:
The statement from a millennial:
"We are the leaders of today, not the leaders of tomorrow. We have volunteered, we have worked hard, we have studied hard, we have graduated from college and graduate school, and we have our Ph.Ds. We are eager and ready to lead-- now."
Those words were not from a Gen Xer, a boomer or a 71-year-old volunteer. They were comments from a 20-something young woman in response to a break out exercise where we defined the "work ethic" of each generation. Although I've used this exercise over the last twenty years, this time the huge difference was the greater number of under-30s in the room. Out of 120 participants, there were around 30 millenials. Usually we get under 5% of the room that represents the under 30 age group, but to have over 25% of DOVIA members under the age of 30 was a first for me. And they were not just attending the leadership workshop; they were active, leading the volunteers from non-profit organizations. The bottom line of her report was, "We are eager and ready to lead-now." As I watched their enthusiasm and interaction in the class, I pondered this question, "How do we handle all that energy, passion and potential?"
Leadership Tips: Let them lead. Give them an event to run. Empower them. Put them in charge-now.
For more on how to do this read, "How Can Millennials Lead Older Generations-Some Quick Tips."
Gen X- Born between 1964 and 1981
The statement from a Gen Xer:
"5% of our volunteers do 95% of the work."
Sound familiar? This comment came from a Girls Scouts leader. I hear these words from Gen Xer's more than any other generation because of three unique problems when recruiting 30 and 40-year-old volunteers.
For more on managing the non-volunteer volunteer:
The statement from a boomer volunteer:
"I'm going to Florida for the winter. I'll be leaving in a December and won't be back until May."
A boomer announced at our lunch table that she had just heard that statement from one of her best volunteers last week. None of us at the table blamed this volunteer-after all, it was 27 degrees in Sioux Falls that morning.
When you live up north, snowbirds are common.
A Leadership Must: Flexibility
As we talked at the lunch table, we all agreed that flexibility was the number one requirement for this generation, and if we could somehow set up flexible volunteer systems, we could benefit from their talents, resources, and expertise. The flexible, "no-collar workplace" is not just a millennial or Gen X phenomenon. Tele-commuting and even the hi-tech workplace (remember our first PCs and those very first fax machines) had it roots over thirty years ago with the boomer generation, and although the millennials have taken it to a whole new level, the boomers learned to work in flex time, team-based, video conferencing, knowledge-worker systems. I know because I was training them how to work this way in the 90s. On the go, retired boomers demand flexibility today. To learn more about how to implement flexibility into your volunteer organization, read "How The No-Collar Workforce is Reshaping the Workplace and What it Means for Volunteer Engagement."
Mature-or sometimes called the Veteran Generation-born before 1945
The statement by a mature leader
"Five years ago I saw a need, so I recruited some volunteers from my church, procured grant money, and created an organization to help children deal with the grieving process from losing a family member or friend."
This was the comment from the very distinguished 70-something woman sitting alone reading the hand-out material as people were gathering for the workshop. I sat down next to her and said, "I see that your name tag says, 'Sad is O.K.' I have never heard of that organization. Tell me about it." She explained how five years ago she saw a need, was retired and wanted to make a difference, so she formed a 501 (c) (3), got permission to use the name, "Sad is O.K." and then proceeded to get grant money. She recruited professional counselors to train volunteers so that the volunteers could counsel children how to deal with grief. She was off and running, and for the past five years "Sad is O.K." has ministered to the emotional and spiritual needs of children in the crisis of death. She is a visionary. I love working with visionaries.
As I listened to her, I was energized, but I also realized that working with a visionary can be a challenge. When visionaries this age volunteer in your organization, they can bring insight, wisdom, energy, passion and leadership, but they also can threaten and overwhelm your volunteers (and your leadership). How can we benefit from this kind of visionary leadership?
Leadership Tip: Unleash visionaries by removing roadblocks and setting up certain guardrails. To see how to do that, read, "How to Unleash the Visionary Volunteer Without Destroying the Organization."
Leading The New Breed of Volunteer Is Not Boring
Don't you love diversity? Leading volunteers would be very boring if we were all the same. Even within each age group we differ; there are texters and visionaries in all groups. Just as the participants who turn on their laptops force me to be more creative and a better presenter, I also am stretched to be a better leader as I frame my leadership style to each volunteer.
Contact us to book a workshop, key-note presentation in your area.
The New Breed: The Second Edition of The New Breed on Sale NowThe first edition isn't that OLD... it's just that we quoted so many studies in that book that we wanted to keep it current. The publisher agreed, so we released a new edition that has the following changes:
In this SECOND EDITION, look for...And much, much more.
We are offering a special on the second edition of the New Breed-20% off and signed by both authors if you order this month.
THE SECOND EDITION
and Occasionally Even Firing
RETAIL PRICE $16.99
OUR PRICE: ONLY $13.59 (20% OFF)
The book that Zig Ziglar calls,
"Eye Opening and thought Provoking!"
The perfect resource to help you mobilize
the team of people you've always wanted!"
"The New Breed" Just Got Better!
We just sharpened the tool that has been helping volunteer
recruiters and managers survive the last 5 years!
Check This Out: Tom McKee Speaking at ReGroup-January 21-23 in Loveland, Colorado
Reaching Today's Volunteer
Most of my workshops are not open to the public, but are designed for a specific non-profit organization. However, I am going to be teaching The New Breed, Volunteer Power workshop that is open to the public in Loveland, Colorado in January 2013.
The January Conference
Focus on Faith-Based Organizations
January 21-23 (A three-day conference)
Understand, empower and grow the volunteers in your ministry!
We know that finding (and keeping!) good volunteers is challenging. We've created this leadership training event to equip you with the best tools and knowledge to help you understand today's volunteer. You're invited to join us for a 3-day interactive training with Thomas McKee. It's a time for learning, sharing with others, and getting tangible tips you can take back to your church to multiply your volunteer involvement.
This training will help you:
Download Conference Information
January 21-23, 2013, Loveland, CO
Before December 31st: The cost for the ReGroup is $149. Only $119 per person if you register 2 or more!
After December 31st, 2012: $199 per person.
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
THE STRATEGIC CHALLENGE
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.
THE TECTONIC SHIFTS THAT ARE CHANGING VOLUNTEERISM
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:
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