I think that it's great have a mediator with your volunteer as Graham suggested. On the whole, though, we are trying to make sure that we have clear expectations before anyone starts as a volunteer. This may seem overly bureaucratic to many of you, but if your agency gets to be a certain size then the people helping out won't just be from your close circle of friends or acquaintances. At NBW we have eventually attracted people with whom we have a hard time communicating or who can't behave in a way that is appropriate for the program. The best thing is to be well prepared.
Have clear volunteer job descriptions, that spell out in detail how to do things, what is required and, if necessary, what volunteers should not do. This last part is important because many of your volunteers will be highly motivated and smart people who might take the initiative in ways that could ultimately be harmful to your program. Volunteers should be aware that if they have a great idea that we are always ready and willing to talk to them about it before they do it.
Provide orientation and training
Provide a written volunteer manual. We do this, but we don't yet have a code of conduct for people to sign... we soon will. This is especially important for youth programs. Rachael mentioned people that have "stepped far over the line." A volunteer manual can show people exactly where "the line" is. If someone isn't working out it doesn't become something personal between any of your staff members or any particular volunteer and the person who is behaving unacceptably.
A thing I always tell people is that NBW is a particular context, and it's not that I have a moral objection to certain behaviors (drinking alcohol and swearing, for instance) but that in this context it's not OK because we want the place to be welcoming and safe for everyone including children and their parents. What I'm saying is that although we don't have a written procedure for working with volunteers who are troublesome, the thing I always try to do is move discussion away from personalities to what is good for the agency.
Here is one of our fave links
Graham Stewart wrote:
We're sort of dealing with something similar like that right now though we aren't beyond finding a reasonable solution. We considered getting an external mediator but instead are having someone familiar with but not closely involved in our collective try to moderate and come to a clear undertanding about expectations for behaviour and attitudes.
rachael spiewak wrote:
does any shop have a process for dealing with volunteers who have stepped far over the line? to the point that the volunteer had to take a break from the shop? and then the volunteer wanted to come back?
let's say that this volunteer, although a very dependable one, makes other shop participants feel so uncomfortable that they avoid coming to the shop when they know that this volunteer will be there.
how do you reconcile your politics with your feelings when that volunteer personally wronged you repeatedly in and outside of the shop?
two wheels good, rachael