We've had similar experiences in our space. I
keep coming back to the same philosophy - you don't fight something by pushing
against it, because resistance is met with resistance. There is a reason
we have unskilled, but enthusiastic people, myself included at times -
because they have not really learned the proper way to do things. And
there are is a reason that they help others with wrong information - because
they want to help and nobody else is there to do it. We all know how
frantic it can get and they jump in and help because they really want
So the solution we came up with is that we need to
be more intentional about our volunteer training. Most organizations like
ours rely on volunteers but don't really spend the time to really train
them. It's always 'learn as you go' mentality and that can be pretty
haphazard and incomplete. Many years later a core volunteer may never even
know how to overhaul a headset or understand all the different types of brakes
and how to adjust them. One way we are dealing with this is by
creating a new volunteer only night, with no sales, no open shop and an
organized agenda which includes instruction for volunteers. Part class,
part work on bikes we need fixed. It's a good start. We are kicking
it off with a volunteer appreciation party and then it will run every Monday
night from 6-9pm. And we are looking for other ways to be more
intentional about an internal training program for volunteers. The new
progam will definately create more skilled volunteers and helps enthusiasm
across the board. People like having the right information to pass on to
others. It's empowering.
Anyway, being intentional about helping our
volunteers learn more and do things the right way creates a new thing and makes
the old irrelevant. So any ideas for us also, on how all of
you do internal training for volunteers/staff would be really helpful to us. Let
us know your ideas!
Sibley Bike Depot
St. Paul, MN
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 11:10
Subject: [TheThinkTank] how to deal with
enthusiastic but wrong volunteermechanics?
Sorry for dominating the emails, folks. Community Cycles is in
all kinds of transition, and we're looking for help.
I don't know all
the details right now, so I'll keep this general.
We've been lucky
enough to have a volunteer show up who's very motivated and enthusiastic about
our mission and our programs. This person has gotten really involved in
existing programs and even helped work on and start a new one.
Recently, this person was asked by another shop visitor a mechanical
question, since it was clear that the volunteer was more staff like, and less
client. The answer given was very incorrect (one of the details I'm missing is
what the quesiton/answer were), but this was witnessed by another very
competent experienced mechanic, who was uncomfortable correcting the
misstatement in front of the group.
In another situation, the same
volunteer was seen making very basic mistakes when working alone on a bike.
From what I understand, the big one was being asked to install cables on a
bike, and neglecting to include housing.
We would like to continue
having this person as a part of our team, but we also need to make sure the
advice and work they do is correct, safe, and appropriate.
wrinkle, is that the two incidents were witnessed by two different staff
members, both very skilled mechanics.
How to approach the volunteer?
Any help or experience you folks have would be greatly appreciated.
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