It’s no secret that volunteerism in this country is in trouble. Especially hard hit are emergency service agencies who, for obvious reasons, need a special breed of volunteer with significant dedication and lots of training.
As I travel around the country and talk to emergency service chiefs, the two most common questions I get asked are:
How do I bring paid staff into my service the right way? How do I fix my organization? The implementation went very badly and I’m in worse shape now.
The focus of this article is the second question. The first was the subject of a previously published article. My answer is to fall back, rethink and RESET the organization. Job number one for any leader in this situation is to get everyone together for a mandatory meeting and publicly re-establish a clear understanding of the issues that were, and are now, facing the organization that led up to the integration of paid staff in the first place. As part of that meeting it’s critical to re-gain consensus from the group on the root problems.
Once that’s done, review all of the relevant policies, procedures and issues brought up by BOTH the paid and the volunteer staff. Address them either globally or one at a time.
Once all of the issues have been addressed to the best resolution possible, set a target date to ‘RESET’ the organization and get back on track and on with the business of protecting the community.
Once the date is reached, execute the RESET. Push the big red button an p[ut the past behind you. From that date forward, violations of the the agreed upon rules, procedures and responsibilities can not bet tolerated.
Be forewarned, you might lose a few people that don’t agree with the newly applied rules. That’s ok, it’s called organizational evolution. The people that stay will make the organization stronger, more vibrant and will be rededicated to the mission which is what you really want in the long run. It will actually make your job as service chief easier.
As the 70/20/10 rule of business goes, 10% of your organization is causing you 90% of your problems. Prune the non-conforming 10% by direct action (termination) or through organizational evolution, and you’ll have a stronger 90% left.
Ask any gardener you know and they’ll tell you, pruning keeps things healthy and growing, it’s just tough to make the first cut.
As emergency service agencies evolve and communities expect more, the problem of recruiting, retaining and motivating volunteers is only going to get worse. We should all be thankful for the thousands of volunteers still responding and we should encourage others to fill the thinning ranks.
Integrating paid staff is a way to maintain the value and traditions of volunteer agencies without sacrificing the mission of servicing our communities. Paid staffing is a reality and used wisely, integrated well and managed effectively we can, in many communities, have the best of both worlds.
Source by Bob Holdsworth