Resolving Conflict with a Volunteer
Using the 4 Steps to Resolving Conflict, select one (1) of the cases below and answer the following questions.
- Define the problem(s) and state the facts. What might you have contributed to the situation?
- How would you prepare for your first meeting with the volunteer(s)? What points would you want to cover and what supporting information would you provide to them to support the facts of this issue? Provide at least 2 solutions to the problem.
- Select the solution that you like the best and determine how you will communicate with the volunteer(s) during the next few months to measure success.
Mary age 80 is a long-time dedicated volunteer. As the Manager of Volunteers, you suspect that she may not be with you much longer as her partner is facing serious illness and Mary has not been coming as frequently as in the past. You have asked her to mentor/orient a new volunteer who will learn her role. Sharing the duties is what you have in mind so that if Mary leaves you have someone ready to take over. The new volunteer is very tech savvy and is a 24 year old male, named John. He has graduated from University, is seeking employment and understands that volunteering may lead him to employment.
Mary is very apprehensive at first but you encourage her to share her skills and experience. Mary and John meet several times over the next few weeks. You have observed that Mary has become quieter and you inquire as to how it is coming along with John. Mary indicates that he is just not appropriate for the role and she is not sure he is going to continue. You have not heard anything from John.
You call John to inquire and he indicates that Mary is very difficult to work with and that she is not helpful or open to any of the new ideas John has for the role. He indicated that she told him that she did not think he was right for this role and that he should consider not coming in to volunteer. So he has decided to stay away and was about to tell you he could not volunteer. He indicates on the phone that he really wanted to share his tech skills and sees great ways of doing this for the organization but at this point feels he is not valued or needed here.
An organization has been providing workshops to women facing cancer treatments for over 20 years. Specialized volunteers who are trained in cosmetics, hair replacement/wigs and nutrition deliver 3 hour workshops once per month. The goal of these sessions is to provide support and ideas to help women through treatment, helping them eat better and look good as the treatments impact both skin, hair, eating habits and overall moral.
The volunteer position descriptions require that they commit to a 3 hour workshop once per month for about 6 months of the year. They are required to arrive half hour before the clients to set up; conduct their specific session and stay half an hour at the end to clean up and talk/evaluate the session. Teams of volunteers are recruited to ensure coverage for the schedule. This results in not every volunteer is required for every workshop. There is a lot of flexibility in scheduling and lead time to decide for the volunteer if they can attend each session. There is a Team Leader volunteer who recruits the volunteers, orients/trains and coordinates the schedule with the volunteers available.
This model has been successfully delivered for over 3 years in Yourtown until recently. A new cosmetician was recruited and at her first session, she was first to deliver her part and then packed up her supplies and prepared to leave. The Team Leader took her aside and indicated she could not leave until the workshop was over (2 hrs. to go). The volunteer, Susan, was very upset and said she had to leave as she had other plans that Saturday afternoon.
After the session was over, the other volunteers asked why Susan left early as they all stayed to clean up. The Team Leader indicated Susan’s commitment that afternoon but the others were not satisfied with that answer and in fact stated they all had other things they could be doing, but were committed to do this workshop. Over the next few months, Susan continued to leave after her portion…and the moral of the rest of the volunteers decreased. The Team Leader was not sure what to do as the volunteers started not to commit. She was having greater difficulty recruiting enough to deliver workshops and had to cancel several.
…she calls you the Regional Manager (responsible for this centre and 10 others) to ask for help.
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