In May I implemented a new principle with all volunteers who decide to dedicate their time to A Day of Hope. I always want to make sure I develop all my volunteers so that they have a great understanding and feel for what A Day of Hope has done in the past, and what we’re working towards in the future. I’ve also been looking for ways I can use our volunteers in areas that they can contribute and help the most. Areas where they can use their natural strengths and talents to help us feed as many families as possible.
So I started sitting down with all new volunteers for an Enter Interview. This is about a two hour process where I spend time with them one-to-one For the Enter Interview I have three objectives; 1) To get to know the person as a person; 2) Get to know their strengths and weaknesses, and; 3) To share with them my vision of A Day of Hope and how they fit into that vision.
You might be surprised to find out that I spend most of the time in the Enter Interviews listening. It’s not about me talking about how great I am, or what we have accomplished as a program. I believe it’s important for new volunteers to know about history, but it’s not the main reason for the Enter Interview. The Enter Interview consists mostly of me asking questions for awhile, listening to the volunteer’s responses, and then sharing my vision after I have the understanding of who they are.
Here is a list of questions that I ask new volunteers:
1. What are you passionate about?
2. What are your strengths?
3. What are you not passionate about?
4. What are your weaknesses?
5. What do you believe you can contribute to A Day of Hope?
6. How can I as a leader keep you in your area of passion and strength?
7. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Very simple stuff that takes a long time to discover. The Enter Interview is my time to learn about the new volunteer and see how he or she fits into the mission and goals of A Day of Hope. This is also my way of learning to put people in, and keep them in the areas that they are talented and strong in.
For me, I know my strengths are in leadership, team building, relationships, and fundraising. I do everything I can to spend as much time as possible in these four areas. For one of our team leaders, John, he is great with accounting and numbers. He’s very organized and he does a great job of keeping track of our money and making sure it’s all deposited and accounted for. Sarah is great at being creative and developing marketing materials. She makes all the flyers, brochures, and pictures. Lydia is one of those people who has the ability to make things happen. She takes initiative and does what needs to be done to make sure the bottom line is met. If I have a task or job with a lot of responsibility, I can always count on Lydia to make sure that it gets done. Nasr is very tech savvy and is great at working with technology and adding fresh ideas for us. My newest volunteer Joelle, is great with creative thinking and branding. She is learning about marketing and how to craft messages to appeal to online readers and local people in our community.
As a leader, I didn’t learn these qualities and traits about my team from being a clairvoyant mind reader. I had to sit down with them one-to-one and ask them the questions that I’ve listed above.
Often times I feel leaders are so eager to share their vision and their goals with their team that they forget to listen to their team to find out their strengths and weaknesses. Taking time to learn about the new and experienced people of your organization is essential to your success as a leader when you want to find and discover the strengths and talents of the people you lead.