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Just finished a seminar about the new way to manage staff. It seldom occurs to anyone to invite volunteer managers to staff related education because they don’t think it applies to us. But we see the value and go anyway because managing people is managing people, right?

So this seminar was all about the coaching method of managing employees, don’t punish, look to the future, listen, ask about the employee vision regarding their job, etc. It struck me that, we, as volunteer managers, utilize this approach every day. Because we have no punishment to dangle over someone’s head, we have to be coaches, not authoritarians. We have this method down pat.

When a volunteer comes to us, we massage their ego to get the very best from them. We tend to show the positive results from volunteering, the payback in good feelings, self-worth, education and a host of other pay from volunteering with us. We don’t threaten, berate or warn volunteers. If you think of it, compare your success with employee success, that is, how many “incidents” of volunteers behaving badly versus employees behaving badly and perhaps the coaching method has something to offer those who are paid.

We are experts at coaching people, because, after all, that is what we do, day in and day out, from the volunteer who is starting to look at things from their own perspective, to the volunteer who just didn’t read the new rules. Each one is helped to see the mission and to see their unique and important role in that mission.

If only those who run organizations would occasionally look to the volunteer department as experts instead of as an afterthought, they might just find some very usable knowledge. By asking us how we manage so many unpaid workers, instead of always purchasing fancy seminars and learning tools, we just might save the organizations some money.