Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
— General Colin Powell
As a pastor to families, I directly and indirectly oversee staff and volunteers in our children’s and student ministries. With busy volunteers, and with so many competing messages in their world, it can be a challenge to communicate the details, programs, and vision for our ministry. Volunteers will soon tune out my communication if I don’t simplify what they receive from me.
1. Cast Vision: Everything we write or say to volunteers is a opportunity to cast vision. Whether it is at the beginning of your weekly email, or sharing a story at the beginning of a volunteer meeting; the vision of your organization needs to placed in front of your volunteers on a regular basis.
A well placed (short) story that captures and communicates the vision is one of the best ways to help a volunteer team focus (and refocus) on what matters most.
When vision leaks, good volunteers will determine in their mind what the vision is…
With so many church backgrounds and varied personalities, even our best volunteers can stray off course. Being slightly off course at the beginning of a ‘journey’ will mean you are way off course by the end of it. It’s essential therefore, that we constantly chart the course in our emails, stories, and meetings.
2. Clarity: In a busy world that is crammed full of competing messages, we should not expect that our volunteers are going to ‘get’ our message quickly. If there is something we want our volunteers to know or do, it is essential that we give them clarity in our communication.
Being clear will require us to craft statements and sayings that will stick over time.
3. Concise: Clarity comes when we narrow our focus down to the absolute essentials that volunteers need to hear again and again. In a frantic week full of competing messages, it is imperative that communication with volunteers is concise and to the point. We are helping our volunteers make our ministry a priority when we make it easy for them digest our communication. Who wants to read a novel in their email inbox?
But, are we ‘dumbing down’ the role of a volunteer by simplifying our communication? In my experience, it is better to simplify and to build from there, as opposed to overloading our volunteers with multiple and complicated messages that they will never remember or act on.
How are you consistently communicating by casting a clear and concise vision and instructions to a busy volunteer team? What tools and methods do you use for communication? What statements have you crafted that have become part of the DNA in your organization?