Author Topic: The overzealous volunteer - sort-of update #33  (Read 7440 times)

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Coley

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The overzealous volunteer - sort-of update #33
« on: March 07, 2014, 04:19:08 PM »
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?
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 05:35:22 PM by Coley »

LemonZen

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 04:29:20 PM »
"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. "



tinkytinky

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 04:33:59 PM »
" 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.

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artk2002

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 04:41:38 PM »
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.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

JenJay

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 04:44:23 PM »
"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."


TootsNYC

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2014, 04:45:41 PM »
Yeah, don't suggest he volunteer anywhere!

First, be really, really slow to get back to him--you're busy!

Then, say, "that was interesting, but I really don't have time to meet. We've covered all of these points in our research already, so it would be a waste of my time and yours." (remember, you need not tell the truth at all--even if he thought of something you didn't, SAY THIS. Because, you are establishing that you and everyone else are far ahead of him)

"Thanks for thinking of the cause, though! Hope to see you at one of our fundraisers, like the barbecue." (Pick something he has to pay admission to get into.)

Then, do the fade-out. Never reply right away, and sometimes never reply at all. If you do reply, say, "Sorry to be hard to reach--we're pretty busy. I don't have time to meet. See you at the silent auction!"

Firecat

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2014, 04:54:26 PM »
"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."

I think it's pretty clear that Bud hasn't learned his lesson at all. Let him back into the organization in any capacity, and he'll go right back to what he was doing. With that in mind, I wouldn't recommend leaving the door open for him to come back.

JenJay

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2014, 05:01:18 PM »
"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."

I think it's pretty clear that Bud hasn't learned his lesson at all. Let him back into the organization in any capacity, and he'll go right back to what he was doing. With that in mind, I wouldn't recommend leaving the door open for him to come back.

I wouldn't either but Coley did meet with him because she thought he wanted to volunteer, so I assumed she was either open to having him or didn't have the authority to deny him.

Coley

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2014, 05:31:29 PM »
We would be open to having Bud continue to volunteer, but there are limits. He volunteered for us in a primary capacity that was central to our mission. Unfortunately, he made himself an "administrative" volunteer in addition. He started taking independent actions in administrative matters that were contrary to what my boss wanted. It was a rather strange situation.

He got angry when my boss pulled him back from the administrative things he wanted to do. He has had a bad attitude since then, and his primary volunteer role was affected. He has made noises about wanting to discontinue his primary volunteer role.

When he contacted me about meeting with him, he was rather cryptic. He replied to my e-mail to all our clients about the volunteer committees. He said he wanted to talk about his future with the organization and volunteer opportunities. When we met, it became very clear that he has little interest in continuing in his primary volunteer role. He said he wants to "help" me. I was truly puzzled. I mean, I didn't ask for help nor have I indicated to anyone that I need that sort of help. It felt presumptuous, which is why I was somewhat offended. I don't particularly want or need this type of help.

So, here we are again talking about administrative volunteering. All the PPs who've said Bud hasn't learned his lesson are right on the money. And artk2002's camel analogy is spot on. That's exactly what I'm worried about. It appears that he wants to run the show rather than have a supporting part. My boss would be happy to have Bud continue in his primary volunteer role or perhaps participate on a committee, but she would not like what Bud is proposing right now at all.

My immediate reaction has been to do what TootsNYC suggests. Be very slow in responding. Be too busy. In fact, we will be very busy for the next few weeks. I'm concerned it may be a somewhat PA response to be intentionally slow in that way. Maybe it would be better to just rip off the bandaid and say, "Thanks for thinking of me, but I have it under control. I appreciate your effort and will take your ideas under advisement."

TootsNYC

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2014, 05:34:34 PM »
That's not ripping off the bandaid.
Ripping off the bandaid is, "Thanks anyway, Bud, but I can't use your help. Please confine yourself to your current volunteer role."


LemonZen

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2014, 05:41:59 PM »
"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."

I think it's pretty clear that Bud hasn't learned his lesson at all. Let him back into the organization in any capacity, and he'll go right back to what he was doing. With that in mind, I wouldn't recommend leaving the door open for him to come back.

I wouldn't either but Coley did meet with him because she thought he wanted to volunteer, so I assumed she was either open to having him or didn't have the authority to deny him.

That was my thought as well, which is why I think Coley should just list the specific roles they are willing to let him volunteer in. If he doesn't like any of them so much the better.

OP I think it's probably better to be blunt with him, or he's just going to keep sending you tons of random info and expecting you to act on it. Sure you can ignore him but why not shut it down in the first place. I think the fade out would be better if this was a social situation, but as a business situation it seems better to be upfront. Plus your boss doesn't seem worried about offending him, so if he doesn't like being shut down and goes away, win-win right?

JenJay

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2014, 05:51:29 PM »
"...I appreciate your effort and will take your ideas under advisement."

I definitely wouldn't say that because I think he'll hear "I needed and will use your advice." and keep it coming. Definitely outline what he IS welcome to do and respond to anything else with "No thank you, I've got that covered."

Roe

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2014, 05:53:55 PM »
Yeah, don't suggest he volunteer anywhere!

First, be really, really slow to get back to him--you're busy!

Then, say, "that was interesting, but I really don't have time to meet. We've covered all of these points in our research already, so it would be a waste of my time and yours." (remember, you need not tell the truth at all--even if he thought of something you didn't, SAY THIS. Because, you are establishing that you and everyone else are far ahead of him)

"Thanks for thinking of the cause, though! Hope to see you at one of our fundraisers, like the barbecue." (Pick something he has to pay admission to get into.)

Then, do the fade-out. Never reply right away, and sometimes never reply at all. If you do reply, say, "Sorry to be hard to reach--we're pretty busy. I don't have time to meet. See you at the silent auction!"

This! Definitely.

Coley

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2014, 06:04:42 PM »
"...I appreciate your effort and will take your ideas under advisement."

I definitely wouldn't say that because I think he'll hear "I needed and will use your advice." and keep it coming. Definitely outline what he IS welcome to do and respond to anything else with "No thank you, I've got that covered."

Good point. I can see that happening. He can be quite persistent. I've also discovered that he has a definite agenda in the way he has outlined his vision of these committees. His agenda does not line up with what my research identified.

GreenBird

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Re: The overzealous volunteer
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2014, 06:11:47 PM »
That's not ripping off the bandaid.
Ripping off the bandaid is, "Thanks anyway, Bud, but I can't use your help. Please confine yourself to your current volunteer role."

I actually really like this.  It's polite, but very clear.  Bud has already proven that he's not going to listen to anything remotely subtle, and I think the sooner you draw a bright line for him the better it's going to be.  The more time he spends picturing himself as an administrative leader, the more painful it's going to be to try to pry him out of that role.  I'd go ahead and send something like this right now before Bud snowballs further.