Managing a large team can be a tricky thing, especially if it’s a volunteer team. On the one hand, they have volunteered in your area of ministry with the understanding that you are leading them. On the other hand, they are volunteers and are not paid staff… volunteers who have lives and other jobs to worry about. You may be their volunteer manager, but at the end of the day they have bigger concerns like providing for family to deal with.
Striking a balance between these two aspects can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it can be very easy for you to lead your lead with excellence and accomplish everything you need to… if you follow a few key principles.
Be the Most Knowledgable
I don’t care if you’ve been managing the same team for 6 weeks or 6 years, your goal needs to be that YOU are the most knowledgeable one in the room. Being the leader but knowing nothing can diminish your position in the eyes of your volunteers. What if they have problems, questions or concerns? If you can’t help them as their manager, they will turn to someone else to teach and guide them, and your position of leadership will be eroded. I understand it may take a long time to get up to speed on everything, especially if you have just been placed into a position of leadership. Regardless, you need to make it your GOAL to be the most knowledgable person on the team, and act upon that goal. Even if you aren’t the smartest, your zeal to know more and better the team will be the catalyst for others to do the same.
Lead by Example
One of my mottos is ‘If I’m not willing to do something, how can I expect someone else to do it for me?’ Now obviously I have a lot on my plate and can’t do every little thing… that’s why we HAVE volunteers and coworkers. However, if a situation comes up and I need to step in to complete a task, I have NO problem doing whatever is needed. Crawling under the stage running cables? Sweeping a studio floor? Whatever it is, you need to lead by example, and act like you expect others to act.
Raise Up Others
As your job responsibilities grow, you may find that you can’t manage every little part of your volunteer team like you used to. Whether its scheduling, training, or the like, at some point there are to few hours in the day to do everything. My recommendation? Raise up some leaders to work under you to do the busy work. Instead of communicating and training with , you only have to talk to one and they will talk to the rest. Running a department this way has two advantages
- It raises people up and gives them more responsibility, which in turn causes them to invest themselves more into the ministry
- It allows you to focus more on big picture issues, while your leaders deal with day to day busy work. In the end, you and your team will be more productive.
This is the hardest one to accomplish. As your team grows and your leaders are taking care of the busy work, there is a tendency for a manager to disconnect from the group and only communicate with the team leads you put in place. Resist this temptation. Even though you are busy, and you have your team leaders working under you, it is important to be involved. Talk to the people in your department and get to know them better, either during service or after over lunch. Staying connected will cause the entire department to grow closer as a team. Your example will cause others to connect more, which will build and strengthen relationships and connections throughout.
Did any of these tips help you? Let us know in the comments below! For another article on managing your team, check out ‘When People Quit‘.