What Twitter Can Teach Us About Empowering Volunteers

There is something captivating by a 140 character limit. How can something so restricting function as a means to communication? But, it undoubtably works. 

Like many leaders, excellence is important to me. Not many of us dream of a team functioning at half speed. 

But I can’t be with all our teams all of the time, I must release the plan and the execution of the plan to my team every week. How can I ensure their success if I can’t be with them to help guide the way? 

One option is to implement feedback loops. Many teams do this in the form of weekly evaluations…but in reality it’s a post mortem. It doesn’t necessarily help team members make decisions in the moment. 

How much faster could your organization move if you focused more on clear parameters and clear objectives? These two limiters are ultimately the two most important pieces of information you can give an person in your organization (paid or volunteer).

  1. What are the “rules of engagement”? 
  2. What do we want to accomplish? 

Granted more detail can come, but that details is useless if it doesn’t have a home in those two questions. 

Let me give you an example:

The kids teams at our campuses are run completely by volunteers, which means we don’t have the weekday opportunities to review and work out “the plan”. Our entire team has full time jobs and can only devote a limited amount of time to our endeavor.

So, how do we communicate what is most important to this team? We make it short and sweet.

We say: no matter what you do, on any given Sunday we must ensure that every child

  • is known (by an adult & a peer),
  • understands the bottom line lesson for the day.

That means, if they are unsure of what’s most important in a given situation they can refer back to that specific statement. 

What if the morning is getting off to a slow start? What should they do? First, priority…make a new friend. Introduce themselves. Then introduce their new friend to another child. 

What if their group time is going off on a tangent? They know they are going to start working their way back to the bottom line. 

Clarity comes when we are clear and direct. More detail may be great for conversation, discussion and training but it has to be effective at a moments notice. 

140 characters. Tell me what you need from me. Keep it short and to the point.

Which one of your teams currently has the most clarity? Share in the comments, on Twitter or Facebook.