Divas, Donalds, and Drama Queens (or Kings)

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Handling Difficult Volunteers

Divas, Donalds, and Drama Queens (or Kings)

Marjorie Trachtman VANNW Conference June 25, 2013

volunteers

Success = Right Person + Right Skills

You’re In The Driver’s Seat

When it comes to bad behavior, you have the power to: • Prevent or encourage • Escalate or diffuse • Help or hurt morale • Cause stress or relieve it

Myth-conceptions

• • • • • • • • Ignore the problem and it will go away No one else notices but me I can fix the person I need to focus on the “good” inside Confrontation will only make things worse If I confront them they’ll leave and the program will suffer If I was a good person I’d be able to deal with the person If I push them out they’ll be mad at me

–From Sue Vineyard, New Competencies for Volunteer Administrators

• • If I push them out they’ll bad-mouth the program Volunteers are “customers ”

What Causes Problem Behavior?

• Unclear task definition/policies • Lack of supervision • Personality clash • Fear/insecurity • Wrong skill set for the job • Poor organizational fit

“I don’t like to be difficult, but it’s the only thing I’m really good at!”

Dysfunction Escalation Pyramid Alarming!

Disruptive

Annoying

Avoidance Is Natural But Has Serious Consequences

Assessing The Situation

• What’s the worst that could happen if I address the situation, and if I don’t?

• What am I afraid of?

• Will this person listen?

• What’s their motivation?

• Do they have a valid point: Is there something I’m overlooking?

• How well have I communicated roles and responsibilities?

• What’s the best outcome or path forward?

Betty has been a volunteer for 15 years since the organization got started. She considers herself to be the resident historian and process expert. The new ED is updating office processes and procedures and Betty has not come onboard. She is argumentative and uncooperative, criticizing the ED and insisting on doing things the way she’s used to. Despite red flags during the intake process, you gave John the benefit of the doubt and brought him onboard because you were desperate to fill an open position. Now he repeatedly oversteps his authority and puts himself in situations that open the organization to risk. He argues over every policy and does not comply when he thinks he can get away with it. When confronted he makes excuses and gets overemotional. Staff have repeatedly come to you with concerns about his conduct .

1.

What’s the worst that could happen if I address the situation, and if I don’t?

2. What am I afraid of?

3. Will this person listen?

4.

What’s their motivation?

5. Do they have a valid point: Is there something I’m overlooking?

6. How well have I communicated roles and responsibilities?

7.

What’s the best outcome or path forward?

Management Escalation Pyramid

Alarming

Termination

Disruptive

Conflict management Performance improvement plan

Annoying

Review job description Review policies Performance coaching Motivational feedback

Consider Your “Re” Options

• Review/Reorient/Reinforce: Go over policies, rules, expectations • Retrain: Make sure they know the task and have the necessary skills • Reassign: See if they do better with a different assignment • Rest: Give them time away to recharge • Refer: Suggest another organization where you think they’d be a better fit • Retire: Offer them a gracious way to step aside and move on • Remove: Dismiss them from service

Having The Difficult Discussion

• Prepare the environment • Be clear and direct about the problem • Focus on: o the behavior o the impact/consequences o the alternative(s) o the follow-up plan • Stay calm and detached • Know the outcome you seek • If it helps, rehearse with a colleague • Follow up in writing

Prevention Is The Best Strategy

• • Look for red flags during screening Clearly communicate your organization’s culture and expectations from the start • Have clear policies and procedures - including disciplinary procedures - and follow them consistently • Develop clearly defined job descriptions • Maintain open channels of communication • Document, document, document!

Always remember who’s in charge!

Handling Difficult Volunteers

Divas, Donalds, and Drama Queens (or Kings)

Marjorie Trachtman VANNW Conference June 25, 2013

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