- They hold managers and individuals accountable for making engagement a part of everyday work, rather than just conducting a survey once a year.
- Their leaders set a positive example for the rest of the organization by helping their teams thrive.
- The have unique coaching and training opportunities for both top- and bottom-performing managers. They address the needs of both groups and offer steps to help each group improve.
- They make their mission and purpose clear throughout the organization to connect the front-line workers with the organization. When employees make this connection, they feel their work is more meaningful than just a 9-to-5 job.
- They identify key business issues and desired outcomes at the start of every initiative.
The list got me thinking. Like most youth pastors, the team I lead consists almost entirely of volunteer leaders who don't work at our church, but rather give of their time outside their normal work hours. One of the mistakes I've made in the past as a leader of volunteers is thinking that I can't have high expectations on our leaders who are not paid, but volunteering their time. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. We should expect as much from our volunteers as we would from full-time employees, minus the 40 hour a week requirement. Even if a volunteer gives one hour a week, there's no reason I shouldn't expect that volunteer to give 110% during that hour.
One of the results of not setting high expectations for leaders is that it leads to a passion-less environment. As I read Gallup's list of things that great organizations do to created a fantastic workplace, I realized that there is no reason that those principles shouldn't apply to an organization of volunteers, especially a youth ministry. After all, shouldn't one of our goals be to make our ministries a fun, fulfilling place to serve? So, I thought I'd take Gallup's list and apply it to a youth ministry where most (or all) of the leaders are volunteers. So, what are some of the qualities of a youth ministry that would make it a great place to volunteer:
- Those who lead other leaders--including, but not limited to the youth pastor--continually engage those they lead, making sure suggestions are heard, concerns are taken into account, and everyone's contribution is appreciated.
- Each team--from the greeting crew to the worship team--has an expectation of excellence. The leader of each area does everything in his or her power to help their team thrive and play their role well, whether its a prominent role or something that happens behind the scenes.
- All leaders are encouraged to grow. High-capacity leaders are given freedom, training, and support to spread their wings. Volunteers that perhaps struggle are given the resources they need to become great leaders. No volunteer is ignored or allowed to whither on the vine.
- Every team member understands why the youth ministry exists in the first place. Not a single Wednesday night or retreat goes by without the mission being front and center, and volunteers love to serve because they believe in that mission.
- Every event and initiative has a clear goal, whether it's to share the Gospel with lots of new students, or to help student leaders understand what it means to be a Christ-centered student leader.
That's my list. What would you add to it?