Managing a Community Volunteer Team
When you’re working on the community and social team for a small employer, you’ll often find that there’s only enough resources available to keep a team of one, you. However, that doesn’t slow down the demands on your time. One good solution to this problem is to turn to a volunteer team, who can help take care of some of the basic, high volume tasks, leaving you with more time to work on the higher end projects. In an earlier blog, Alison wrote about why people volunteer to moderate, and how to start and maintain relationships with the different kinds of volunteers. Once you have a team, there are a few steps you can take to ensure they stay motivated, as a team, and continue to work on their tasks as efficiently as possible.
Always keep communications open
Keeping lines of communication open is in the job description, but especially so for a volunteer team, as if they are neglected, they may begin to feel used, or worse, begin to use what tools they have to lash out at the community. Always keep your door open, and provide a space where your volunteers can converse with each other, and you, about their tasks and issues, away from the general community.
It’s always good to be able to reward your volunteers, whether it be with special forum badges, access to special items or areas in games, or even physical items – but never promise to provide them with something that isn’t already in your hands. The kind of disappointment that comes from you, their boss or mentor, failing to deliver on a simple promise is the surest way to kill morale, and lead to your team checking out of the program.
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Only give them as many tools as they need
While it may be tempting to give your team a healthy dose of tools to use in their duties, even the best of intentions combined with temptation can lead to disaster. Which goes hand in hand with…
You’re their supervisor, so supervise
Minimising interruptions to your schedule by giving your team a full toolbox and carte blanche may sound like the reason you put together your team, but remember, they aren’t professionals. They’re community members too, and they need adequate, regular supervision, and should be seeing your approval or intervention for riskier, or more challenging events.
Have a code of conduct, and stick to it
Finally, you need to have a code of conduct that is as comprehensive, and well thought out as possible. If the code of conduct is crystal clear, then the people you want in your volunteer team should have no trouble following it, under any circumstance they find themselves in – and if any of them break that code of conduct, you need to make sure you follow through on any discipline you’ve set out as well.