Volunteer managers and delegation: Part 2

Volunteer managers have a lot to do and little time to do it – but by delegating to their volunteer base, they are able to accomplish much with and through volunteers. This series will explore tips and tricks to effective delegation.

This is the second article in a series that focuses on volunteer managers and delegation. Click here to see the first article.

Volunteer managers often have a lot to do and very little time to accomplish the tasks at hand. That’s why a volunteer base is so important to volunteer managers. How is it that volunteer managers are able to get so much done with and through volunteers? It’s through delegation. Delegation may seem like a simple concept, but it can actually be much more difficult that one might think.

Why is delegation so difficult? No volunteer manager would want to purposely hold back their organization by failing to delegate. North Carolina State University suggests the major barrier to volunteer managers not delegating is the volunteer manager themselves. In order to gain the full benefits of successful delegation to volunteers, a volunteer manager must do some self-reflection to see what more specific barriers they identify with. Some of those barriers include:

  • Not enough time: The perception that there isn’t enough time to explain the task or teach the volunteer the skills necessary for a delegated task. Even though it may take you less time to complete the task now, it’s likely the task will need to be completed again. One of the main benefits of delegation is actually saving time.
  • Losing control: Volunteer managers who are new to delegation often feel as though they are giving up control. It can be frightening to allow someone to complete a task for which you are ultimately responsible. Communicating frequently and checking the progress of the task can help decrease the fear and still allow the volunteer manager to have a sense of control.
  • Not getting credit: Some volunteer managers feel as though they will not get credit if they aren’t the one completing the task. It’s important to share the credit with others. Remember, the better your team looks, the better you look.
  • Losing tasks you enjoy: Volunteer managers may occasionally have to delegate tasks they enjoy doing. Remember, your role is to “think big” and not get bogged down in recurring tasks. Seeing others succeed because of your coaching is also enjoyable.
  • You can do it better: A volunteer manager may believe they are the only person who can complete the job successfully. However, because you are part of a team, that’s probably not true. Learn about your volunteers and know they are highly capable.
  • Delegating out of a job: Some volunteer managers resist delegation because they believe they may delegate themselves out of a job. By delegating, managers may find themselves moving to a higher position or volunteering to take on more challenging tasks. Delegation improves productivity and that will be obvious to everyone.
  • No confidence in team members: If you are a volunteer manager who doesn’t have faith in your team, start by taking small risks. Early successes will lead to more delegation. Learn to see the potential in volunteers and prepare them for the tasks assigned to them. The more prepared they are, the less worried you’ll be.

To learn more about your own personal barriers to delegation, visit the North Carolina State University Parks Scholar leadership skills training website to take a self-quiz.

Stay tuned for additional articles in this Michigan State University Extension series on volunteer managers and delegation.

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