You are sitting in your vehicle, cruising along to somewhere when da da dummm… the dreaded Check Engine Light or Service Engine Soon Light pops on. What goes through your head… “Oh no, I can’t afford this right now!”, “Again, really, I just had this checked!”, “Hmmm, this is strange, nothing appears to be wrong”. Whatever you can think or imagine I highly doubt if your initial response was, “Yay! I love when this light comes on. Thank you!” As humans, even the most positive people probually do not greet the light with a warm welcome. Yet, the light has a purpose and if we respond accordingly then we can be saving ourselves from time, resources and a huge headache. The same can be true for volunteers who are showing signs of Burn Out.
This week, we will be focusing on burn out symptoms that would lead to a check engine or service engine soon light to go off showing signs of distress with your volunteers and volunteer management.
Just like with the light going on in the vehicle, this is a warning. The issue/cause/situation could be minor, a one-time thing or it could be something of significance. No matter how minor to major it may be; the issue needs to be looked into just as the same response of inquiring is needed for your volunteers.
Symptoms in volunteers that trigger a warning light:
Change in communication frequency.
You may notice that the volunteer used to be really good at communicating with you and others and lately it seems that they are taking longer to respond or not at all. You may also have an increase in communication, but not showing signs of production and work; this increase in communication either in person or through phone calls, emails and other correspondence will have a tint of complaints, grumbling or unhappiness.
Decrease or not signing up to participate.
This is a huge symptom that a warning light is on. When Volunteers stop signing up or agreeing to participate. Better get this checked out.
“I have nothing to do”.
If you have a volunteer who tells you they have nothing to do, and you have nothing for them to do; again a warning sign. It is ok to have nothing for a volunteer to do for a short period of time because they completed their assignment, it is another issue completely when you hear this statement more than once. Now would be a good time to look at how you are managing the volunteers and how much or more likely how little are you delegating or offering volunteers to grow and develop.
Burn-out is really a lack of desire to do any more. Maybe you have the same volunteers do the same thing all the time and the person wants something new. Maybe, the person is bored and not being challenged. Perhaps they just feel unappreciated. Whatever it may be as the cause, burn out is a general term that we can all relate to and it shows up as a warning light very clearly.
No new ideas, “We have always done it this way”
One of the gifts that volunteering can do for organizations is bring in people from different backgrounds and expertize to help your organization. If you or experience the symptom of no new ideas or hear the statement, “we have always done it this way”; again warning sign something needs to be looked into. With lack of fresh ideas or even looking at things with different perspectives, it can be challenging for organizations to continue to grow and develop. This is really crucial when it deals with raising money or trying new things to expand and educate/promote who and what you are doing and offering. If it is always the same, your organization will become static.
So this week look at your volunteers and how they are managed. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being no signs at all and 10 being a warning light. Check the status of these symptoms. And if you do have them, what are you going to do about it? Please share and leave comments, love to hear from you.