Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Helpers Ring in the Holidays (Success Tips for Team Leaders)

Non-profits and small businesses often depend on volunteers to “make the Season bright.” You may get a group of happy, good-hearted people who willingly and freely give of their time; but sometimes you end up with a bad apple or two. When that happens, it takes skill and patience in order to mend fences and hurt feelings
No one likes to be told that their work is deficient or that they are too slow, especially when they’re getting paid zilch! Appreciation and tact go a long way. It seems that in every group, there’s a “know it all;” a person who understands exactly “how things should be done” and when.

The leader (that’s you) must know how to keep that person on task and divert attention when necessary to keep things running smoothly. Encouraging cooperation, and making a tense atmosphere fun is all part of a team leader’s job description.

(Wolf in Sheep's Clothing)
When volunteers get hot under the collar and sharp words start flying, a wise leader knows when to insert himself or herself to stop trouble before it happens. Taking a busybody aside and thanking them for their insight can allay hurt feelings. When they sense that you’re aware of their keen observation skills, you can remind them that volunteers are here, not because they have to be, but because they want to serve. Their efforts should always be welcomed and acknowledged.

Many of us hire helpers during the busy holidays to get our projects out the door on time. These assistants may be friends, strangers, or family members who work for free. The same rules apply, perhaps even more so, when you’re close to the staff. A pleasant working atmosphere removes the tension between family members who are caught between rigid deadlines and their own hectic lives.

Put a group of people in a room, give them work to do, and there’s bound to be petty squabbles. In the beginning, allow people to work out their own rhythms and procedures. Insert yourself only if the “rage” level rises. Staying ahead of problems and anticipating needs requires tact and gut instinct. 

If you are prepared in advance by having your project organized and well defined, there will be fewer mistakes and less resentment. Having a happy and successful holiday depends entirely on what you bring to the table in the way of vision, preparation and leadership.

"Serena Shines" 11 x 14 Pastel matted and ready for framing