Monday, January 7, 2013

If you have to let a volunteer go...

We are a unique sport because we have such a heavy reliance on the good graces of volunteers.  Everyone in derby is a volunteer, including the skaters, but there are so many volunteers that give sweat, blood and tears for this sport, and never get the glory of skating in a bout.  Why do they give so much to derby?  The answer is different for each and every one of our volunteers; but, sometimes there comes a point when you have to have a parting of the ways from a volunteer.
Awesome volunteers!  Photo by Joshua R. Craig

Many skaters confidentially shared horror stories of volunteer relationships gone terribly awry, some of them were negotiable, but some of them were deal breakers; these included stealing money from the league, and sexual harassment.  Yikes.  Nobody wants situations like that to happen, but life being what it is, weird situations are going to come up.

Most leagues don't want to think about having to "fire" a volunteer, but almost every league has had to face this problem one way or another. How do you ask a volunteer, someone who has donated time and energy into your organization, to just leave?  Some leagues just hope that the volunteer won't feel welcome anymore, and that they'll get the hint and leave on their own accord.  This probably isn't the best way to handle a volunteer dismissal, especially since legal action could be taken against your organization for making a "hostile working environment."

You need to have a plan in place on the off chance you need to ask a volunteer to leave.  Leagues have policy in place for skaters, but do leagues have anything in place for the dismissal of a volunteer?  If your league doesn't, then you might be at a loss of where to start with your process.  The Sunshine Coast Rollers shared their code of conduct for their volunteers; I feel like it's always good to let people know what the expectations are up front in any situation.

(Examples from Sunshine Coast Rollers Incorporated Compliments of Scaerie Faerie)

Officials and volunteers are:
- to ensure that the rules and regulations match the skill levels and needs of skaters.
- to compliment and encourage all skaters.
- to be consistent, objective and courteous when making decisions.
- to condemn unsportsmanlike behaviour from all participants in SCAR roller derby.
- to be a good sport themselves.
- to be up to date with the latest developments.
- to set a positive example.

This code of conduct doesn't get specific; it's not going to cover every incident or situation that is going to come up, but everyone in your organization needs to be on the same page, and this might be a first step in that process.  Keep communication open with your volunteers, so if you do have an issue, remedying it doesn't feel like it's coming out of nowhere.  Remember, while a volunteer is working for your league, he or she is also representing your league and that could be a great or terrible thing. Sometimes people and certain organizations aren't a good fit, and it might fall on the league to have to make the decision to end a relationship with the volunteer.

No comments:

Post a Comment