Author Topic: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work  (Read 3841 times)

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bah12

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2013, 12:00:55 PM »
 I don't think there's anything wrong with stating all the reasons why an idea may not be the best.  But I still don't think that means they can't be shared.

What you have here is a communication problem.  Someone might say "we should do something" and it still doesn't mean "you must to this thing...I decided." Would it be better if they picked more precise words?  Sure.  But the word "should" by itself does not suggest direction or decision.   Also, I think the greater challenge is that you have a 100% volunteer organization that communicates mainly via email.  That definitely makes things tougher.  I know that I'm not glued to my computer screen 24/7 (even though it often feels like it), but I still might want to put a suggestion out there so that the rest of the group can think about it and discuss. 

I can imagine it's frustrating waiting for electronic feedback on things with a time limit.  I just don't think it's rude for someone to give honest feedback, make a suggestion on improvement and still recognize that they may not do the work.  If Claude berated George for the final flyer and not implementing his idea, he'd be rude.  Saying "we should make this in color because it looks more professional" and then accepting that the club had neither the time nor the resources to implement the idea, is not.  I also don't think it would be inappropriate for George to say "I need feedback by this date so that I have time to incorporate changes.  If you don't respond by this date, I will move forward with what I have."  If Claude responds with "I think it should be in color", then someone can say "Changing to color would be nice, but here are all the reasons why we shouldn't do it...one of them being that no one is willing to make the new flyer."

Yet, I do think it's unreasonable to say "You can't make a suggestion unless you are doing the work yourself."  An idea may still be good and maybe even should be done even if the person who first suggests it can't or isn't willing to implement it.   

lowspark

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2013, 12:19:27 PM »
Ok, I think the real problem here is that you have a committee (the board) making decisions but that you are not all in the same room so that issues can be brought up, discussed and decided all at once. And if this dynamic is ever going to change then one of two things needs to happen. Either you set up a regular meeting time to discuss any and all issues and whoever shows up to the meeting gets to vote (meeting doesn't have to be in person, it can be via conference call or chat room) OR you elect one person to serve as president (or similar title) who then takes charge to field suggestions, get feedback and make a decision.

In the case of the flyer, when he didn't reply right away to your  "when can you have that done?" inquiry, then you might have replied that if you didn't hear back from him or anyone else volunteering to handle it by a certain time/date, it would default back to the original flyer. (20/20 hindsight at work here, but for next time...)

In the case of adding new members, since you are the one who would have to do the work, I think it's absolutely OK to say right out, I cannot commit to doing the work it will take to add new members. Unless someone can commit by time/date to doing that work, then unfortunately it won't be possible to add new members at this time.

It seems to me that you are not asserting yourself because maybe you don't want to appear to be pushy or appear to be making decisions without the authorization to do so. But sometimes, that's just what needs to happen, at least for now, the way the group is set up.

Once you get beyond this issue, or at least for next year when you go through initilal organization again, I think you need to implement a better way to handle issues and decisions.

cwm

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2013, 12:23:48 PM »
I was part of a volunteer organization in college. We always had problems with communications. Someone would suggest an idea, and the rest of the group would assume that it would be implemented by them. Someone finally stepped up to be an actual leader and organize our activities. When someone made a suggestion, she would reply to all with pretty much a stock form email.

"Hey, all, Suzie had a great idea. Here's the steps we'll need to get this idea implemented.
1. Cost breakdown
2. Changes to anything that's needed
3. Implementation
4. Changing procedures to reflect implementation

We'll need these steps done by X date. I can work on the cost breakdown. Who wants to cover the rest of it?"

As it was a volunteer organization and some people didn't have time to do extra things, a lot of these great ideas never got implemented, but at least we didn't have any blame when things fell through. We knew exactly who had time to do what sort of activities to get extra things done.

WillyNilly, could you try a simple email like this when something comes up? Get a few basic steps as to what needs to be done, and if you can volunteer for one of them (a simple one, at that, if you even have time) it looks like you're willing to be on board and help, but it's also saying you can't do the whole thing. Set a firm date. And if you haven't heard back from anyone and that date is coming up, you can choose to send out a reminder or not, whichever you find easier. Nobody can volunteer you to do a whole project again, and you'll still look like you're doing things.

WillyNilly

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2013, 12:48:14 PM »
It seems to me that you are not asserting yourself because maybe you don't want to appear to be pushy or appear to be making decisions without the authorization to do so. But sometimes, that's just what needs to happen, at least for now, the way the group is set up.

This is exactly it.
I'm also a little put off that the two people who have chimed in have both straight-out said in their e-mails the work would fall to me, after I had been the first to say I didn't think we should do it.

I just got another email from Nina wanting to know what the third party's response was (all this just started being discussed yesterday afternoon!) I just replied to the group saying:
"...Some one else would have take care of all the details, such as coordinating with [third party], answering new member's questions, collecting and mailing the checks to [third party] and depositing the [club dues] checks at our bank, creating a second page of sign-in sheets, updating our insurance, updating our member list on Google Drive, and figuring out a fair way to have new members volunteer time (since all the dates have been filled).

Its not terribly difficult work, but it is a bunch of details. I think before we start involving [third party], we should figure out if our group can even handle this - is anyone willing to do all the tasks involved? If not I think we should just consider our ranks closed. Its unfortunate we didn't meet our member goal, but I think it is what it is at this point."

TootsNYC

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2013, 12:53:54 PM »
Someone once told me that Eisenhower was able to tell his cabinet members or special interest groups "no" by simply saying, "Please research all this stuff for me to see if we can do that."

and then either they'd see how much $$ it would cost, or they'd decide it was too much work. So he got to stop a lot of wasteful initiatives without creating ill will.

You could do similar: "That's an interest flyer--please send us a plan for how to make it. Where will we get the software?"

And then feel free to say, "If Joe and I don't hear anything more, we'll go ahead with the existing plan. If you want to change the flyer for next year, please volunteer to the flyer designer early."

lowspark

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2013, 12:58:14 PM »
Way to go WillyNilly. I think your reply was perfect. You exhaustive (and exhausting) list of things that need to get done in order for this to happen should really drive home to the other folks just how much work is actually involved.

PastryGoddess

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2013, 01:28:45 PM »
Great response, and if anyone doesn't get the message, I think a short "No, It will not be possible at this time" response is the way to go

blarg314

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Re: Please don't volunteer anyone else to do more work
« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2013, 08:02:53 PM »

In general, if someone makes a suggestion that requires a lot of work, you can respond with (email or direct question "Is there anyone who is willing to take on this job?"  If it's something that requires a change of rules, you can go with a vote to see if it's a good idea, followed by the same question.

If the result is resounding silence, you move on. Anyone who pushes further gets "Great. So you're volunteering to take care of X, right?"