In the Trenches: A Guide to Leading Volunteers by Kylan Booser
Wise leaders know it's never good to be in the trenches alone. This book will keep you company there. Every youth leader can use some help. Every youth leader who has a vision can definitely use some help. That’s what In the Trenches is all about. Helping you.
Written for both the professional and the volunteer youth leader, this book shows the Biblical basis for all volunteer organizations and offers sound, scripturally oriented advice on delegating responsibility, earning trust, making tough decisions, building teams and always honoring volunteers. With sixteen years of youth ministry experience, Kylan Booser knows leading volunteers isn’t always easy, but through his own hard won, hands on experience he is able to give straightforward advice that is always practical and always easy to apply.
Excerpt from In the trenches:
Section 3: Delegation Principles
Once you have workers established under you, it is vitally important you learn to delegate to them. There are a variety of reasons leaders do not delegate, but if you do not you are hindering the expansion of your vision. Remember from part one of this series how Moses delegated responsibility to others. That is our model. Why have workers with you if you will not delegate to them? You must give some things over to others in order to grow and expand and accomplish.
Here are some tips in delegating to others:
1. Before you delegate to them, be sure they have the heartbeat of the vision. If you haven’t noticed yet, a volunteer catching the vision in their heart is vital. If the vision is in their heart, dedication and effort will follow. I often share excitement with a volunteer as we see the things of our vision happening. I’ve seen wonder, laughter, and tears as volunteers watch or recount things that they realize are parts of the vision we have been working towards. I know a volunteer has the vision in his/her heart when I see those kinds of reactions.
2. Before you delegate, you need to put your workers in the right place (more on this in the next section). The wrong place equals ineffectiveness regardless of their commitment or talent.
3. Before you delegate to them, and as you do, make sure they are properly trained. Remember, Moses taught those he delegated to the decrees and laws. Lack of training is one of the greatest downfalls of many volunteer teams. You may have dedicated workers that desire to help, but they may not be properly trained. Don’t expect them to do things, even many common sense things, unless you train them in those things. Don’t delegate anything to a volunteer until they have basic training. A good idea is to have a volunteer manual that contains the vision, the basics of working with youth, and the guidelines and expectations of a volunteer. Have a new volunteer read through the manual as part of their basic training. This will take some work on your part to put together but it will be worth it!
4. You must give them clear direction and a defined end result of their responsibility. This is HUGE! Don’t leave anything ambiguous. Be very specific in what needs to be accomplished. Basic responsibilities that all the volunteers must carry out should be spelled out in detail in the volunteer manual. Write out expectations of specific responsibilities such a leading the greeter team or running the snack bar. The more you have written down and in their hands the better prepared they can be.
5. Make things as simple as possible. This will help big time. Remember, they are volunteers that have lives outside of their volunteering. Any time saving you can do for them is important. Don’t overload a volunteer, be sensitive to their time restrictions.
6. You must trust them in what you have given them. Let the worker navigate the way to the end result you have defined. If they are in the right place, they will be able to do so. Let them have some leeway to grow and dream in their responsibility. This will give them ownership to it. A leader who micro-manages will never be a true delegator and will limit vision. Also, a leader who micro-manages will frustrate the volunteer and will become what Moses ended up avoiding through his delegation- burned out and over-extended.
7. You must follow up with them. Correct what needs to be corrected, redefine what needs to be re-defined. Though you have delegated the responsibility, the volunteer needs to know that you will check in and evaluate and will make changes if necessary.
8. ALWAYS praise and honor the workers consistently. Let them know they are valuable to you through cards, yearly staff parties, etc. The workers need to know from you that they are needed and a vital part of the accomplishment of the vision.
Here are 5 things not to delegate:
• The most important thing.
• Your greatest strength.
• Personal contact with your leaders.
• Confrontation with others.