The contractor I was working with the other day told me to sawzall the sub-floor to the basement bathroom where the toilet had been leaking for the past 3 years, while he ran and grabbed some more supplies. He told me not to cut in the middle of a seam, but to try and find the backer-board strips that elevated the floor a couple of inches and cut right along that. Then he left.
Now, I know I said: “No problem.” But I didn’t quite know “how” I was going to do such a thing. Good thing he’s gone, I thought. And a good thing I’m the homeowner (if I mess something up that’s going to cost more money, at least it’s my money mistake, right?)!
To my contractor friend, I’m sure this task would have taken him a few seconds of thought and a few minutes to execute. He does this kind of work all the time. Me, on the other hand, teach large groups of children Bible stories, facilitate adventures and events, and lead and train volunteers to serve and disciple children. We both have very different skill sets.
It’s not that I can’t develop the skill set necessary to fulfill this task, I just haven’t been trained to do it as quickly and cleanly as a professional would.
Which brings me to my point. That day, upon reflection, I thought about the many volunteers that work with me and how I sometimes put a task in front of them that I might find simple and doable (because I’ve been doing it for a while and I’ve got a lot of practice), but the volunteer might look at me and say they’ll take care of it (meaning, they’ll figure it out), but they haven’t been adequately trained for the task I’ve given.
Hanging out with my well-trained and seasoned contractor friend made me realize that I need to do a better job training the ministry volunteers that serve alongside of me with children and youth. It was a good reminder to step into someone else’s shoes and see the inadequacy of training someone for a task could lead to doing the task poorly.
One caveat: If you are not particularly good at training (one thing I am growing in), then it is necessary to surround yourself with quality people that will look at you and say: “Sure, no problem!” I’ve been blessed with an incredible staff of volunteers, that will look a challenge in the face and tackle it, even if I haven’t trained them adequately. This is called “on-the-job-training.” This kind of training can be effective, but it takes a long time and can contain some costly, ill-timed mistakes. However, on-the-job-training, coupled with some formal training, could be a potent combination!
Do you wanna know what happened to the sub-floor and the sawzall? Well I couldn’t figure out how to get the sawzall started to even go in a straight line (so we could place a new piece of plywood down evenly next to it), so I just cut as far as I could from the toilet section to the first backer piece, then tore out the “wet” stuff, and swept and vacuumed all the bad stuff. I bought time, because right when I got done cleaning, my friend showed up to do the part I didn’t know how to do!!
What are some of the best ways you’ve found to train your volunteers? Leave a comment!