It’s almost that time, the time you plan for all year long. You recruit, you train, you inspire, you encourage, and you appreciate until you are blue in the face. But you are ready, and you know your hard work, time and energy will be worth the effort. Fall Kickoff—here . . . we . . . go.
And when your hard work does pay off, you start off with a bang. But then something happens a few months in, doesn’t it? We get through our Fall Kickoff, and finally take a deep breath. Then somewhere around November, things begin to change. More volunteers are calling out, volunteers that were once all in, begin to fade away. And as the holidays approach, you become a little more desperate to fill in the holes for small group leaders, worship directors, and storytellers.
You figure, the holidays are coming, I will show them how much I appreciate them, that will keep them serving. I will give them a gift for Thanksgiving, we will have a Christmas Party in their honor, I will buy them each a Christmas Ornament to remind them of why they do what they do. How do I know this? Been there, done that!
I worked so hard at showing my volunteers how much I appreciated them, but no matter how hard I tried, come January I was desperate for more volunteers.
I recently read an article published by the Gallup Business Journal titled “Don’t Pamper Employees— Engage Them” that got me thinking that maybe I was doing something wrong. It says in Gallup:
“In the intense competition to attract and retain top talent, U.S. employers are vying to offer the most alluring perks imaginable to their workers. Companies such as Google are leading the trend, hoping that happy employees are more productive, creative, and passionate workers. A massage at work would probably make anybody happier. But happy doesn’t necessarily equal productive, or even loyal.
“On the surface, it’s hard to argue with this approach: A free lunch, a siesta in the nap room, or a massage at work would probably make anybody happier. But happy doesn’t necessarily equal productive, or even loyal.
“Gallup recently studied the relationship between workplace policies and employees’ engagement and wellbeing and found that indulging employees is no substitute for engaging them.
“Gallup research shows that keeping employees happy or satisfied is a worthy goal that can help build a more positive workplace. But simply measuring workers’ satisfaction or happiness levels is insufficient to create sustainable change, retain top performers, and improve the bottom line. Satisfied or happy employees are not necessarily engaged. And engaged employees are the ones who work hardest, stay longest, and perform best.”
To read the entire article from the Gallup Business Journal, click here.
If I look back on my time as a ministry leader, to those volunteers, who stuck it out, who stayed with me through the whole year, it wasn’t because I gave them Starbucks gift cards. Although I know that helps, but that wasn’t it.
The ones who stuck it out for the long haul are the ones that were engaged in what they did. It’s the ones who found their sweet spot, who served because of the impact they made and the fulfillment they received. It was the ones who were engaged.
So, how do you go about making sure that your volunteers are engaged in what they do?
In StandOut by Marcus Buckingham, Buckingham states:
“To be truly your best, it isn’t sufficient merely to understand that you’re unique or even to understand what makes you unique. Sustained success comes only when you take what’s unique about you and figure out how to make it useful,” (p.194).
“Move us even slightly out of our strengths zone, and our outstanding performance falls to average alarmingly quickly,” (p. 195).
What if we built ministries based on people’s strengths? What if you took the time to help volunteers and leaders identify their own strengths. Think of the type of small group leader who thrives on building relationships, the type of large group leader who communicates a story in a dynamic way. As a result, not only do they make an impact with the kids and students in your ministry, but they become fulfilled knowing they are being used for what God has created them to do.
To learn more about StandOut, check out our book preview located in the YouLead library. To learn more about YouLead, our library of leadership resources, click here.
Developed by Orange, YouLead is designed to develop the leadership skills of yourself, your team and your volunteers. It centers on answering three basic questions: What can I do to continue learning as a leader? How can I be intentional about connecting with my volunteers consistently? What can we do to stay on the same page as a team? We do this by creating materials that can be digested in 20 easy minutes. Click here to learn more about a subscription to YouLead.