High Performing Teams in Volunteer Organizations – Really??


Can volunteer organizations improve their results by learning about improving team performance? You bet!

Here are three essentials – three reasons why high performing volunteer teams ARE high performing.

Purpose is clearly understood and valued – by all.

First, the purpose must be clear. Hopefully the mission of the organization will do this job for you. If not, you made need to start here. Make sure the mission (or self-created rally cry) is very clear with a well-defined purpose. Make it inspirational and ask those who join the organization to commit to fulfilling the mission. Each team (or committee) must examine how their purpose fits in to the overall mission of the organization. Every team must understand why they exist and how their results will contribute to the organization’s success.

People feel valued.

Second, people must feel valued. Most folks will be quick to acknowledge that making people feel valued is the responsibility of every individual on the team. That doesn’t mean it happens. We must be sure that people are empowered, trusted, accountable, and appreciated. We must also recognize that everyone is different. Spend some time looking at the differences of people in the organization and talk about how to work together to embrace differences – instead of being frustrated by them.

Focus is on results.

The third success factor of high performing teams is a focus on results. They solve problems, they reach conclusions, and they take action. They continuously complete tasks that take them progressively toward their goals. Success is celebrated in small steps throughout the life of the team and team accomplishments are loudly announced!

Our Volunteers . . .

These principles apply to all organizations of course – but let’s think in terms of our volunteers. Volunteers come in excited – just like new employees. To stay connected to the cause, they need to be reminded periodically of what their purpose is – and why it is important. Volunteers need to feel they are valued. They need to know that their time is being used effectively. Everyone needs to see results. Volunteer organizations especially, cannot “spin their wheels” and keep people engaged.

So there you have it – three critical components to ensuring any team can be a high performing team: Purpose, Valued People, and Results. Kudos to all of our amazing volunteer organizations that put these principles to work every day!


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