Empowering Volunteer Staff: Practical Ideas for Weekly Training
By: Matt Coppess
Have you ever looked around your volunteer team and realized that you are probably training your replacement? Don't freak out, your ExD isn't about to fire you, however someday your role will change or some other school in your area will need a new director and one of your staff may be ready to take that step...but only if you've prepared him or her.
How do we do that? How do we empower and develop our staff to the point where they could do this without us? I recommend three ways: equip, include, encourage.
EQUIP: This is the most difficult task, especially for newer staff. All of us should make every effort to meet with our staff teams outside of the club setting, ideally once a week. Meeting before club is fine IF students have yet to arrive. Once they do the dynamic changes drastically. So that might not be the best time to meet.
Spend your meeting time praying for students and each other, prepare for the weekly club meeting or other events, and go over one nugget of training. Focus on one RMA or one aspect of club. In the very near future you’ll find staff training videos available for download on YFCimpact 2.0. They are typically short, and will be a great place to start teaching and discussing challenges and best practices.
Focus on the social element of this “meeting.” Make this time fun. Your staff should look forward to getting together and spending time together just like the students do.
Meet as often as you can preferable weekly. Create a small Facebook group just for them. Use it to communicate everything from assignments and deadlines, to prayer requests and student stories. Encourage them to interact as well. Once the training videos are up, share the links and ask your staff to watch them and share insights and questions in the comment section. Don’t give up on meeting face to face as a team, but use social media concepts like this to impact your team.
INCLUDE: This one is easy. Include your volunteers in everything you do. Include them in every RMA possible from taking them to football games and plays, to paintball battles and appointments. Try to identify RMA’s that each staff team member will enjoy and connect them with students they will or already “click.” Go beyond traditional RMA’s too. Include them in banquets and other fundraising events. Take them to meet parents, administrators, and other key adults. Make it a priority to take them to YFC training conferences and events. Also include them in your life, be social! Have your team over to watch the big game or go to a movie as a group. Hang out with them individually as well. Have lunch or coffee together. Heck you can even double or triple date!
ENCOURAGE: This one is even easier. You can’t tell your staff, “Good Job” or “Thank You” enough. Take it a step further; show them how highly you value them by raising the funds for their trips with students, or training conferences. Give students who you know love them a card on which they can write a note of appreciation, and then make sure it ends up in the hands of your staff. You might be surprised how highly they value your praise and appreciation.
Empowering our staff multiplies our ministries and blesses our volunteers, our students, and us immensely. It is more than worth the effort. Some of my favorite moments in ministry have been watching staff I helped learn the ropes succeed on their own and then pass it on. Do everything you can to help equip, include, and encourage your staff team corporately and individually.