The next sign of a miserable job I want to takle is irrelevance.
Lencioni describes Irrelevance this way: Everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone, anyone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not find lasting fulfillment. Even in the most cynical employees need to know that their work matters to someone.
This principle combined with immesurement has really made me rethink why, and how we do job descriptions in Uptown specifically and in Kidmin generally. If you talk to most kidmin’s including myself our job descriptions are largely task driven. This is the wrong approach with staff especially if those staff are volunteer staff. Paid staff have a paycheck to help motivate them. Volunteer staff need to clearly see who benefits from what I do. Tasks don’t communicate that.
Most people who volunteer in Kidmin think the kids are the ones who benefit from their work. When in reality often times it isn’t the kids who directly benefit from the work of many of our volunteers, yet if we haven’t communicated that clearly they are leaving every weekend feeling like they have failed. When you break down who benefits from the work your volunteers do it helps them see purpose.
This is one of the main reasons volunteers quit. The very reason people volunteer is to feel a sense of significance. We sell them on making the difference in the life of a child and give them irrelevance because of our ambiguity.
In uptown everyone’s job is make sure every kid that came this week wants to come back next week. Because we believe that life-change happens most often over time in the context of relationship. Everyone contributes to that goal.
Small group leader – Kids benefit from their work
Logistics director – Teachers and Parents benefit from their work – not kids directly
Guest Services – Parents benefit – the faster we check kids in the happier parents are and the happier kids are.
Preschool Director, small group director – Both of them the person who benefits is me. 🙂
Knowing who benefits from our work makes it personal. One of the most basic tactics of war is to dehumanize the opposition if we don’t see a face when we are doing our work it’s very hard to face our work. Keeping a good volunteer always beats finding new ones.