Three Trust Strategies That Create Committed Volunteers

Submitted by Tamarack on September 1, 2017 - 3:49am
By Tammy Elliott

In our last V-News update, I explained that vulnerability-based trust on your team is what allows your team members to feel comfortable engaging in passionate debate. Your volunteers will feel as though their voices matter, because everyone’s diverse opinions are considered. When everyone has a chance to weigh in, that is when you achieve collective buy in which creates committed volunteers. It all starts with trust.

Many teams skip this very important step when they come together, but it is the equivalent of everyone boarding a bus for a long journey with a tank full of bad gas. Without that step, there are going to be lots of hiccups and struggles along the way, with little chance of reaching the desired destination.

How do you instill ‘Vulnerability Trust’ right out of the gate? There are 3 strategies that I’ve found very effective when leading my own team of volunteers:

1. First, instead of using the terms strengths and weaknesses on your team, ask your volunteers what activities weaken them and which ones strengthen them. You can be very good at something that actually drains you which means this is not a strength; rather, it’s a weakness. It is important that you as the leader of your team create this culture by being open about what both fuels and drains you. This strategy sets the stage for honest dialogue between team members and it promotes elimination of judgment.

2. A fun personality assessment (PA) exercise truly helps your team members appreciate diversity and the uniqueness of others. There are many different types of PAs. I found a fun, easy one on-line using the book Who Moved My Cheese. This book identifies the 4 different ways team members handle change. We’ve had a lot of fun with this initiative on my team, and it has helped me as a leader to know which roles my team members are able to excel at.

3. The last strategy that I use with my volunteer team is an exercise where I encourage self-reflection by getting them in touch with the effect our events have on them personally. At our post-event committee meeting each team member comes prepared to discuss the impact our guest speaker had on them and why.  This approach not only creates a deep connection between team members but has them realizing the impact we have on the community and ourselves. This approach not only creates a deep connection among team members, but it also has them realizing the impact we have on the community and ourselves.

Creating vulnerably-based trust within your volunteer team may seem like an unnecessary, time-consuming step, but trust me, it’s worth the investment up front. The result is a team of volunteers who are excited to be part of something bigger than themselves.  

To learn more about team-building and leadership with your volunteer team, do not forget to attend Volunteer MBC's Reading Cafe. Click Here for details.


This blog was originally posted on Volunteer MBC by Tammy Elliott and is re-posted here with permission.

Tammy Elliott
Member Relations and Learning Center Consultant
905-238-2622 Brampton Office
905-951-0202 Home Office