Project Management

2 Ways to Be a Better Volunteer PM

Joe Wynne is a versatile Project Manager experienced in delivering medium-scope projects in large organizations that improve workforce performance and business processes. He has a proven track record of delivering effective, technology-savvy solutions in a variety of industries and a unique combination of strengths in both process management and workforce management.

Many volunteer groups are put together for a one-time event. They should not be expected to be the most efficient team. Some team members will stand around idle, while others will start inefficiently in tasks they have never done before. Volunteers are well-meaning and capable, but they just don't have experience to be efficient when brought together for the first time.

That's where you come in. You are a project manager and have skills to get people organized. If you are a member of one of these teams with this awareness, you can intervene in situations to help volunteer work teams do more good.

But you have to be careful, because you can easily destroy the vibe that do-gooders enjoy while they work. These two strategies can help.

1. Look for opportunities to inject your skills appropriately
I was once helping out in a food bank processing center with a group of volunteers who did not know each other. They were working together to repackage goods for delivery to food banks, but not very efficiently. I could see where they could organize a little bit better.

The problem was that I could not just go in and direct them. Who was I to boss them around? They had a boss at work, and they were not at work! Volunteers want to enjoy themselves and talk while completing tasks that will help the less fortunate.

I could carefully suggest improvements, however, and …

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Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.

- Frank Leahy