Quality people management is volunteer management!

The CIPD research quarterly update (August 2009) states:

“The role of the line manager is an increasingly important and challenging one in the modern workplace. It is the day-to-day behaviours of line managers that will, to a large extent, decide the extent to which employees will go the extra mile in their jobs and remain loyal to their organisation”

This gives me two areas for reflection:

(i) Quality people management is volunteer management

I remember John Ramsey reflecting in his speech at last year’s AVM AGM, that people didn’t really know how to define volunteer management. He did state however, that he did not view VM as a subset of HR.

This research paper certainly supports John’s statement, but in fact provides a further interesting concept – that effective people management requires an organisation (and by inference its line managers) to encourages people to volunteer their talent, their time, their intellect and creativity, and their commitment and loyalty. So it appears that there is more than an element of truth in saying that quality people management is volunteer management!!

What therefore is there implication to us as a profession? It means we have something to offer the wider world of work. Within volunteer management practices and philosophies there are ‘secrets’ that organisations have not yet discovered for encouraging staff engagement.

It means that the volunteer management profession has a duty to engage with the wider world of world and share these lessons and philosophies – after all, which of us in our capacity as paid staff, do not want to be treated as a volunteer by those that manage us?!

(ii) People who manage volunteers on a day-to-day basis (but are not the designated ‘volunteer manager’ for the organisation) are the key to encouraging volunteer contribution

Therefore the organisation needs to equip those who manage volunteers as an aspect of their role, with the skills, knowledge and attributes to engage with them and promote volunteer contribution.

Furthermore, the pivotal role of ‘line managers’ is emphasised by the discussion paper that states: “managing staff can be the most rewarding aspect of a job, but also the most challenging because of the issues that line managers have to cope with.”

The implication for us as a profession? We need to work in partnership with senior management and our HR departments to ensure that those with responsibility for day-to-day management of volunteers feel equipped and motivated to fulfil this aspect of their role. If this can be achieved, then according to the CIPD/ACAS research people will be “given the opportunity to use their skills and are motivated to put in discretionary effort”.

In short, to encourage volunteer contribution in the UK, the volunteer management profession needs to have a co-ordinated strategy to develop the volunteer management capacity of those that manage volunteers as an aspect of their role.

One thought on “Quality people management is volunteer management!

  1. Steve,Building on your argument you may be intersted to know that the excellent book “The Leadership Challenge” by James Kouzes and Barry Posner starts from the perspective that to be an effective leader one should consider one’s staff as volunteers.  Doing so cuts to the heart of true leadership because it removes the (false) belief that people do what they do solely for financial remuneration.Rob

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