General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

The overzealous volunteer - sort-of update #33

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My organization is engaged in a new effort to recruit volunteers to serve on new committees. We began this process several months ago. I've done a lot of work and research on committee development, and I have specific ideas lined out for how the committees will function. We announced the committees to our clients for the first time (by e-mail) a couple of weeks ago. 

We have a volunteer (Bud), who has in the past been overzealous and stepped on many toes. He got so far out of line that my boss basically had to push him out to get him to stop. Bud became very angry and stopped participating in the program.

When Bud got the e-mail about the committees, he replied and said he wanted to talk to me about beginning to volunteer with us again. I said great, and we met for lunch to talk. I thought he was going to volunteer for one of the committees. However, during our meeting, Bud informed me that he wants a role in organizing the new committees. I wasn't sure what he meant. I've already done the groundwork. The committees are ready to roll out. The groundwork needed to be done before I announced the committees. I started to tell him about the research I'd done and about the organizational details, but he didn't listen to me. It appeared that he'd already decided what type of help I need without my asking for it.

Bud said he wanted to think of "questions" I would not have considered and provide what he thinks are the answers to the questions. I was somewhat taken aback and didn't really know what to say to him. I suggested that he send me some information and I'd take a look at it. I didn't want to commit. Honestly, I also was a bit insulted. His manner was condescending -- as if I would not have thought of these details independently. He said as much: "I doubt you would think of all this on your own."

Yesterday, Bud began sending me information. Began sending. He has continued to send more information today, including information I already reviewed when I was creating the committees. He is going to resend information he sent yesterday because he has more to add. In essence, he appears to be redoing what I did when I was developing the committees two months ago. And there is indeed a condescending element to this because he's not thinking of much beyond what I've already considered.

Much of this is ground I've already covered. Much of it is information that simply isn't useful to me: It doesn't apply to what we're doing or the parameters I've been given by my superiors. Some of it is very specific "rules" that Bud believes are necessary for the committees' operation. Bud may be overstepping again. It shouldn't be one man's role to decide how these committees should function.

I'm trying to figure out how to respond to Bud. He says he wants to meet with me again to go over his information. I don't have time to sit with him and go over all of this. Also, the information largely is not useful to me. I don't want to hurt his feelings like my boss did. I also need him to understand that I am not as "green" as he apparently believes I am. I have years of experience in volunteer management.

How should I respond to Bud?

"Thanks, but this has already been taken care of, and unfortunately I do not have time to meet up to discuss it. I have A, B, and C positions available if you'd like to volunteer. If you're interested I can send you more information/who to contact. "

" after reviewing the information that you have sent, we realize that we are further along on in this process.  While the ideas are well though out, they don't fit with our parameters.

If you are interested in volunteering with the xyz or the 123 committee, I can put you in touch with the people in charge of those volunteer groups."

ETA: LemonZen's wording is great as well.

PPs are correct. Don't meet with him. Say "thanks, but no thanks" and leave it at that. Personally, I wouldn't even offer the olive branch of a volunteer position, at least not without checking with upper management. It doesn't sound as if he's learned his lesson. This is the camel's nose under the edge of the tent -- before you know it, the camel's going to be in there spitting on everything in sight.

"Bud, you seem to have misunderstood. I'm interested in volunteers FOR the committees, I don't need help organizing the committees. I appreciate your enthusiasm, however, I've already taken care of everything you've emailed me about. If you'd like to volunteer on a committee let me know, otherwise, it was nice seeing you again. Take care."


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