If you're like me (and a lot of volunteer managers I've known are!), you really want to please everyone. Of course this is unrealistic, but it ought to be possible to create more supporters of volunteers in your organization than detractors.
Begin by identifying who on staff is a real champion of volunteer involvement - the people you go to if you need a creative role for a volunteer or anything else special. On a piece of paper or an Excel spreadsheet, write down their names in a column (if you don't want anyone to see your list, use code names!). Then, next to each, identify why you think each person is so positive. Is it because:
- The volunteers you've assigned to them in the past have been exceptionally good?
- They are secure in their work and so able to share it more easily?
- They are naturally warm and welcoming?
- They have a good relationship with you?
- Their direct supervisor rewards success with volunteers?
Obviously there are many other possible factors.
In the third column, identify what benefits the staff member seems to derive, personally, from success with volunteers. Things like gains a sounding board for new ideas, access to many different skills, more ways to help their clients, etc.
Now draw a line across the page and do the same thing for staff members who are often positive, but not always. Can you find reasons for their occasional reluctance by comparing your answers in columns two and three to what you identified above for the greatest supporters?
Draw another line across the page and repeat the process for those who seem "on the fence" or neutral. Do it once again for those staff who are more often negative than positive. Finally, analyze those staff who really seem "bent on destruction" - who are always negative about volunteers.As you look at the possible reasons why detractors might be that way, you will be able to separate issues out of your control from things you can possibly do something about. Are their attitudes based on bad experiences with recent volunteers or on unsubstantiated prejudice? Might they be completely untrained in how to partner with volunteers, and yet not realize that? Do they receive feedback from their managers about how well they do or do not work with volunteers?
So now you can make a fourth column headed "What I Might Do." Consider how you might use what you have diagnosed about supporters to approach resisters. Are there real issues that you can take care of and change the situation (such as not assigning volunteers at particularly hectic times or requisitioning another workspace)? Is there a way to ask for the help of supporters to do some peer outreach to their more negative colleagues?The real point is that rarely is there only one reason why volunteers are welcomed or not. It comes down to personal relationships with each staff member - both with volunteers you may ask them to supervise and with you as leader of volunteers.