Low-performing volunteers are hurting you more than you know

I recently spoke with a chapter volunteer leader who’s willing to give it a try but about ready to throw it all in. Do you want to know why? Well it seems that the bar for getting on the chapter leadership is how many years you’ve put in not performance. When she looks around the table, she sees low performance and hears all about how there’s this issue and that issue.

Two years ago, I spoke with a fellow committee volunteer who was being tapped for re-appointment and the response: “no, thanks … we don’t do anything, just sit around, and then get applauded.”

Four years ago I had a difficult call with a chapter board member who was resigning. The reason: when she offered a solid plan for action (that the chapter desperately needed), the president barely said thank you and then produced her own. I should add that the rejected plan was much stronger.

I just read a “Why Millennials Keep Dumping You: An Open Letter to Management” in which Elizabeth McLeod called out tolerating low-performance as a serious demotivator for Millennials:

1. You tolerate low-performance

It’s downright debilitating to a high achiever. I’m working my heart out and every time I look up Donna-Do-Nothing is contemplating how long is too long to take for lunch. I start wondering why leadership tolerates this.

Is that the standard here? No thanks.

Fact: Poor performers have a chilling effect on everyone.

Another fact: it bugs Gen Xers and Boomers too!

Elizabeth is channeling what research tells us. “Are Low Performers Destroying Your Culture And Driving Away Your Best Employees?, based on Eagle Hill Consulting’s survey of
more than 1,700 professionals from across the federal, private and non-profit sectors reports that low performers lower overall workplace morale (68%) and low performers contribute to a lack of initiative and motivation, resulting in a
work culture where mediocrity is accepted (54%).

Associations are terribly reluctant to call out low-performers volunteers. In fact, we don’t even evaluate performance so we don’t have address it.  According to the ASAE Foundation study on Achieving Mutually Beneficial Volunteer Relationships, only 16% of surveyed associations systematically evaluate volunteers.  Associations almost never fire a volunteer.

Do we have a volunteer recruitment problem? I think it could be a volunteer management problem. What do you think?