Like many people, I have mainly taught myself what I need to know to use a computer. Very few of us have had formal word processing training if we think about it, although we've shown each other things, searched online here and there... And clicked and 'undone' many, many times. I have had reason to think about this recently as I've started training for the wonderful Happy Ltd as well as delivering Volunteer Management training through their LVSC courses. Their standards are high, and The TPMA process has been amazing for training inspiration and a reminder of what I know is great about excellent training.
But I.T. is different to Volunteer Co-ordination, hey. In real life, it's very hard to click 'undo' when you've played it wrong with a vulnerable volunteer who has crossed a boundary. Or when your great new role didn't throw up any new recruits, and you realised you wasted a month barking up the wrong advertising trees. Clicking ‘undo’ is a luxury we don't have when we are juggling the needs of a stretched project, weighing up the pros and cons over volunteers/paid staff, or when we are all managing each other in a volunteer-led project happening at evenings and weekends.
Which is why opportunities for reflection on what we do are such a good thing. They are the closest thing we get to that precious icon.
One opportunity comes up every week, without fail. Thoughtful Thursdays is a weekly discussion and 'tweetchat', focusing specifically on the Volunteer Management issues of the day. A weekly blog is posted on ivo.org by different contributing volunteer manager every week, and others add their thoughts via twitter using the hash tag #ttvolmgrs. And, if twitter isn't your thing – or you have trouble keeping to 140 characters like me! You can contribute via the comments section below the blog. Subjects are varied, and always inspiring.
"Involve me and I will understand..."
Another opportunity is the luxury of group training and reflection. Like a crowd-sourced problem-solver, the best thing about learning new stuff in a room full of volunteer coordinators is the other volunteer co-ordinators. Other people have tried it, have reasons why it worked or didn't, and have a score of fresh perspectives on that issue that's been rattling around in your brain for weeks.
And, however magic it is, how much time do we waste clicking on that little magic ‘undo’ button in our I.T. lives?! A little bit of group learning is an investment - a bit more understanding, and clarity in our future working lives. Can't be a bad thing.
Join me for half a day, a day, 2 days... Reflect on how we engage each other as volunteers in this ever changing world and feel less like you wish you had an 'undo' button in real life.
Volunteers: Motivations, Retention and Roles
Volunteers: Recruitment Inductions and Goals
Volunteers: Policies, Agreements and the Law
Volunteers: Support Supervision and Recognition