Author Topic: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work  (Read 3776 times)

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WillyNilly

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Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« on: June 24, 2013, 08:32:39 PM »
Does anyone have a polite way of saying (or is this ok itself) "Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work. If you think something should be done you should only propose it if you are willing to do it yourself."

I'll give a bit of a background. I am on the "board" of a community club. Its an annual club where people buy in at the beginning of the year and then receive a product regularly for 26 weeks. The product comes from another, third party. Basically the club's role is to collect all the funds, pay the third party, collect the goods each week and arrange for members to pick up their goods. Our club has about 40 members (very small for this type of club), the third party supplier has about 50 groups and about 2,000 individual people receiving their weekly goods. The goods are distributed on a fixed schedule set by the third party. All board members are volunteers and get no extra benefits from being on the board.

So twice now we've had issues with board members directing what "should" be done, but making it clear they weren't going to be the ones doing the work.

The first was when we were recruiting members and organizing an event to do so. We are a small group and our goal was for 60 members this year. We planned an event, open to the public, to raise awareness of our group and pique interest. One member, Joe, made a flyer (in Word). It was a bit "folky" and amateurish but perfectly acceptable. And easy to print (standard paper size and black and white). And other member, Claude, suggested it should be more professional and full color (showed an example of a flyer done in some art program). The example was beautiful for sure. But the thing is it became clear after a while Claude had no intention of producing such a flyer for us, nor any suggestions how we could print/copy a full color flyer. He just didn't like Joe's and wanted something different to be made (via magic?) All the back and forth about the flyer delayed us releasing it and therefore delayed our promoting the event by about 2 weeks... and we ended up going with Joe's flyer, with a slight (and in my opinion bad) modification.

The next just happened. Our distribution started 4 weeks ago, with this week being week #5. A larger organization that helps clubs such as ours sent a general email to all the clubs in the city asking if any are still accepting members. Joe forwarded the email to the board asking for opinions. I responded to all (we have 5 board members) that I didn't think we should accept any new members at the moment, because it would just be too confusing (but that i would respect the majority vote on the matter). Thought it is too much work to change our pick-up sheets, our volunteer slots are all full (each member volunteers to man the pick-ups at least once during the 26 weeks of distribution), and it would just overall be a hassle. Our registration period ran from mid-January to last week of May and I think if people missed it, oh well they missed it. I suggested we take their contact info and simply invite them to join next year.

So then Nina, another board member responded to all saying "While I agree with you Willy, I do understand the feeling of frustration of not having a [club membership]. (That was me 2 years ago!) The extra work is mostly on your and Joan's shoulders.
But if you all feel we should, given the worry about not having enough members we once had then sure. How about forwarding the email [to the third party provider] and see what he says about $, hassle, etc..."

And that's it. All the work will fall on me. I will be the one who has to get the payment, and then take it to the Post Office and certified-mail send it and I'm the one who will have to change the sign-up sheets, and I'm the one who has to send all the emails and I just don't want to do it. Nina is not volunteering to take on the hassle (she has still not updated a chart she volunteered to update 4 weeks ago). And I'm ticked she didn't respect my opinion in having said I didn't want to. If she wants to do the work, fine, no problem. But she admits it won't be her, it will be me and another board member.

snowdragon

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2013, 08:41:41 PM »
don't do it. No matter what, you said you were not not up for doing it - so PROVE that you are not up for doing it.

If they want it done - they can do it or it will 'fall through the cracks" When they ask if it was done/isgettingdone/ect. tell them "Since I told you I could not do it, and you went ahead with it anyhow, I assumed that you were doing it. I am still not available for this."

 

citadelle

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2013, 08:53:45 PM »
Since you said you would respect a majority vote on the matter, has there been a vote? Since both points of view have now been stated,  maybe respond to Nina and ask her to conduct a quick vote?

TootsNYC

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2013, 09:05:05 PM »
I would say, "Before you vote, please note: This is a LOT of extra work. If you vote yes, please be prepared to pitch in--I will be directly asking you for help."

And next time, don't say, "I will respect the majority vote." That goes without saying, actually. But if you DON'T say it, then you have leeway to announce: "I won't do this." And the fact that you don't leave the door open to say 'it's ok if you disagree w/ me,' they'll be intimidated out of agreeing with you.

And just announce what you think should be the case: "No, our sign-up was last year; they missed it."

"No, there isn't time to redo this."

Just be emphatic. The organization will be better for it. And if they disagree with you, they can put forth the energy to do so. But right now, there's too much wishy-washy-ness, and they don't have to spend any energy to make all their alternate suggestions.

sweetonsno

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2013, 09:26:44 PM »
I'm not sure I see this as volunteering someone else to do extra work so much as making a suggestion or expressing a preference/desire. Nobody seems to be saying, "George is a graphic designer, why doesn't he make a nice flyer?" or "Willy and Joan can handle the extra members, no problem!" (Basically, it's more implicit. People are saying what they want but not volunteering to do it themselves.)

I agree with the other posters. Be firm about not taking on the new responsibilities. However, don't reject the suggestion outright. Just make it clear that you can't make it happen. Immediately delegate. "Great idea about the flyer, Claude. Who's got access to the program? Can you modify the flyer by Friday? Good." Or, for the other example: "I can see the benefit of taking on new members, but we'd need to add a new volunteer position to handle the ordering and deliveries. Nina, why don't you look at the list of people who have expressed an interest in volunteering and see who is available?" Then move on.

WillyNilly

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2013, 09:31:26 PM »
Since you said you would respect a majority vote on the matter, has there been a vote? Since both points of view have now been stated,  maybe respond to Nina and ask her to conduct a quick vote?

Joan has since responded saying perhaps the idea of asking the third party is a good one but goes on to say "If [third party] is agreeable, we can take a final vote. Please note though - I will probably vote no, even though I would really like to accommodate those people who are interested and have the extra members since we were concerned we didn't have enough. I, too, feel the extra work will ultimately fall on Willy's shoulders."

Joe introduced the topic without comment, but I think he will, seeing my response, say "no" to more members. By far, Joe and I do the bulk of the work for this group (much of which I don't mind, because I volunteer to do what I do). I don't begrudge others for doing less except when they volunteer for a role and then don't follow through.

Aside from the work I would have to do, I also feel its unfair to our current members who have each been asked to volunteer a certain number of hours (and some have already done so) - all the volunteer shifts are full, so new members would not be obligated to give anytime; I don't think that is fair to the people are being asked to give time. Reorganizing the whole volunteer schedule would be major work.

I'm going to cool off a bit and send an email outlining just how much work it is, and letting everyone know I'm going on vacation for 2 weeks starting next week and won't be able to do much, if any, of the work. and yeah, Toots, your right I shouldn't have mentioned the majority vote thing. I have to remember, less is more!

wolfie

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2013, 10:07:39 PM »
This won't work for this time, but next time it happens say "That sounds great Nina! Let me know when you have it all organized so we can roll it out" 

TootsNYC

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2013, 10:31:03 PM »
There's a reason for deadlines, membership periods, etc.

If people are waffling, mention that.

Sure, they're bummed that they're not members--but saying no to them is part of what will keep the membership value high, actually.

*inviteseller

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2013, 12:23:11 AM »
Anytime someone voluntells you what to do, turn it back to them.  Oh yes, those flyers do look nice..when will you have them all printed?  Sure, sign up all the new members..let me know when you have finished reworking the distribution schedule with the new members.   It is nice when people give ideas how something can work better, but it isn't cool when they won't do anything to assist in making that idea a reality, instead letting others (and it is usually the same people year to year)do all the work.

Miss Tickle

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2013, 12:36:53 AM »
"While I agree with you Nina, and I do understand the feeling of frustration of not having a [club membership]. The extra work will have to be on your shoulders, not mine, if that's what you (all) decide to do. If you're willing, I say go for it. I, for my part am satisfied with my participation."

lowspark

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2013, 10:29:57 AM »
Anytime someone voluntells you what to do, turn it back to them.  Oh yes, those flyers do look nice..when will you have them all printed?  Sure, sign up all the new members..let me know when you have finished reworking the distribution schedule with the new members.   It is nice when people give ideas how something can work better, but it isn't cool when they won't do anything to assist in making that idea a reality, instead letting others (and it is usually the same people year to year)do all the work.

I agree with this, sort of. I have a slightly different way of putting it though.

Oh yes, those flyers do look nice..who will be doing the design and printing work, will you be able to? If not, I don't think we'll be able to do a flyer like that.

Signing up new members is a possibility, but who will be doing the work it will take to add them at this point? I am unable to commit to that so if no one else can do it, I don't think we can entertain that suggestion.

You recognize the validity of the idea, you ask if the person suggesting it will be doing the work (knowing full well they won't), you make the point that there is no one else available to the work (especially if it's your shoulders the work would naturally fall upon) and then you end it by saying "it won't be possible." And thus, the discussion should end right then and there.

bah12

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2013, 11:02:46 AM »
I'm not sure I see this as volunteering someone else to do extra work so much as making a suggestion or expressing a preference/desire. Nobody seems to be saying, "George is a graphic designer, why doesn't he make a nice flyer?" or "Willy and Joan can handle the extra members, no problem!" (Basically, it's more implicit. People are saying what they want but not volunteering to do it themselves.)

I agree with the other posters. Be firm about not taking on the new responsibilities. However, don't reject the suggestion outright. Just make it clear that you can't make it happen. Immediately delegate. "Great idea about the flyer, Claude. Who's got access to the program? Can you modify the flyer by Friday? Good." Or, for the other example: "I can see the benefit of taking on new members, but we'd need to add a new volunteer position to handle the ordering and deliveries. Nina, why don't you look at the list of people who have expressed an interest in volunteering and see who is available?" Then move on.

This is where I sit.  I see these as suggestions and preferences, not demands, and not volunteering  others to do work.  And I think it's perfectly acceptable to say "thank you for the suggestion, but I do not have the time/desire to do this.  If someone else would like to volunteer to do the work, then I can support it."

I don't think that people have to be willing to do the work themselves to make a suggestion or state an opinion.  As long as they are willing to accept the possibility that no one would be any more willing to step up than they are, I think they are ok.  In your response, I think it would be better to say "does anyone have the time, the software, and the ability to implement this suggested flyer?" than it would be to say, "Claude, please don't make any suggestions if you aren't planning on doing the work yourself."
It would be better to say "I understand that we'd like to bring membership up, but I'm concerned about the additional work and confusion.  I don't have the time to do this additional coordination.  If we do this, can someone else volunteer to do it or help me?" than it is to say "All this work falls on me.  Please don't state your opinion about membership if you aren't willing to do this work yourself."

camlan

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2013, 11:32:50 AM »
The best way to handle these suggestions is to be pretty blunt.

At my old job, I was in charge of getting the holiday cards mailed, because I supervised the part-time employees who did the work. It took 2-3 weeks to get all the cards into the envelopes, label the envelopes and get postage on them.

One year, we got the sample cards. One employee took a look and said that the cover photo would look better if it bled off the card, instead of having a white margin all around it. True, it might have looked better. But to do that would mean a delay of at least two weeks, to get the new card made up and get samples.

So I told everyone, owner and all, "We can do that. You want the cards all in the mail by X date. To do that, we need to start next week. The new card will take two weeks to get a sample and then another week for printing. So we can use this card and get out on time with little stress, or change the card. If we change the card, the cards will either go out late, or Tasks Z, Y and Z won't get done by the part-timers for two weeks. Or we can change the date the cards have to be out by. Those are our options."

I couldn't make the choice, but I could state the consequences of each choice.

It's perfectly fine to make a suggestion. But someone really needs to speak up and point out the issues involved in implementing the suggestion.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


WillyNilly

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2013, 11:41:56 AM »
Just to clarify, with the flyer, I did respond (this was all via email) "looks great, when can you have that done?" And was met with silence. We only meet once a month, so a lot is done via email - so there is no looking at someone and making them squirm, they can just walk away from their computer and go silent and we are left hanging. Claude just put out this flyer idea - not as an idea of "if we can..." but as "we should..." and then dropped off email communication for a few days. Meanwhile the other flyer hadn't been approved by anyone but myself and Joe because once the others saw Claude's example of a (totally unrelated flyer but the style) they wanted that. After about 3 days Joe stepped in and emailed something like "what can I do to the current flyer to make it more attractive to you all."

I'm not sure I see this as volunteering someone else to do extra work so much as making a suggestion or expressing a preference/desire...

This is where I sit.  I see these as suggestions and preferences, not demands, and not volunteering  others to do work...

To me, the difference between putting an idea out there (which is of course welcomed) and volunteering someone else to work, is using the word "should" and refusing to go forward until the idea is implemented, such as now, saying we'll only vote once we know from our third party. If something "should" be done it has to be done by someone. A simple idea to me, looks more like "hey would anyone be able to..." or "we should try XXXX, I can do YYY..." or "do you think we should consider..." or "lets talk about XXX idea". Just saying "X should happen" and dropping out of the conversation until X is done by someone else, is the issue.

In order to keep "too many cooks" out of the kitchen, only Joe and I have access to the official club email. We absolutely share all relevant emails with the group though. But when it comes to sending out emails, its on Joe and me. So saying an email should be sent, is definitely saying Joe or I should do the work. (And no, no one else is willing to take on the full role - people are willing to send an email here or there, but not do things regularly... which leads to confusion and extra work "this email was read - was it responded to?", etc).

One of the reasons I hesitate to send the email to the third party is, its creating work for them too, to see if its feasible. They are going to want to know how many members we are proposing adding, it would require some shuffling on their part, etc. And then if we ask this, and then end up voting against it... its like why did we bother involving them? I think first we should agree ourselves, then if we do decide to do this we ask the third party if its even possible, then let the organization that is asking know the final answer. All this back and forth is a lot of emails sent and received, etc and its me or Joe who has to send them, and read the responses. I want to streamline the process to be efficient and polite, but also to reduce my obligation.

bopper

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2013, 11:48:38 AM »
"Given that people have had a 5 month window to sign up and given that everything is already planned/scheduled/etc and given that basically I will end up having to re-do all the work I spent the last month doing, I am going to say no to new members.  I can imagine it is frustrating!  Maybe we can start thinking about how we all found out about the club and see if we can think of new ideas for soliciting new members next year.  We can take the names of the people for this year and include them on next years pre-season mailing list. Any other ideas?