Firing a Volunteer is Hard; 10 Things I’ve Learned About Firing Volunteers Properly

Firing a volunteer is a horrible experience. I remember the first time I had to fire a volunteer I was responsible for leading. I felt terrible and delayed having the conversation for a long time.

This person had been giving their time to serve under me for a while. They loved serving, but there were just so many things that weren’t working.

3 Red Flags

  1. While they loved serving, their poor attitude was a downer to the team.
  2. They showed up on time, but often came unprepared.
  3. They refused to learn the skills necessary for the role they were in.

After a couple moves to different roles within the same team, and even trying to move them to another team, it was clear that it was time to ask them to step down.

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Why You Can’t Sign Up for an Account on TrainedUp

[Update: You can sign up for an account now, but I still want to talk to my customers. Give me a call any time! My mobile number is (904) 994-2919.]

Right now, the only option that’s available to try TrainedUp is to request a free trial, which requires a phone conversation with me before your account will be created. It’s much slower than your typical SaaS experience, but there’s a very important reason for the increased friction in the signup process.

I want to talk to my customers, but not for a hard sell. I want to learn from my customers. I want to know what their expectations are, what they’re trying to accomplish, what problem they’re trying to solve, and who they anticipate will be using the platform from their team.

Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, once said “premature automation can lead to blindness.”

I don’t want to automate the sign up process yet. I want it to be manual because it gives me the chance to serve my customers personally instead of them interacting only with my product. I want my customers to know they’re signing up for more than a software tool; they’re signing up to work with me personally.

To take that one step further, I’m giving the first 100 churches on the platform my personal cell phone number and an open invitation to call whenever they need help. They should feel like I’m an adjunct part of their church staff, someone they can call whenever they have a question they think I can help them answer, whether it’s about TrainedUp or anything else.

There are plenty of areas where automation makes sense and TrainedUp is highly automated in other ways. Heck, TrainedUp even provides the most dead simple automation tools for on-boarding new users that you’ll see in any tool. But sometimes you have to see that just because you can automate a process, it doesn’t mean you should automate it.

Leadership Fact #1: Leaders Act Like Owners

Not every leader is the one in charge, but every real leader acts like an owner. To them, what happens to the team or the church is personal; it effects them or someone they care about directly.

They harbor long term thinking and won’t sacrifice the future health of the church for short term wins. Nor do they allow short term setbacks to cloud the long term vision.

The phrases “that’s not my job” and “I don’t care” are never heard coming from their mouths.

30 Minutes with Ryan Stigile: Baked-in Leadership Development

I spoke with Ryan Stigile a couple weeks ago. He generously spent time with me talking about leadership development at his church and at churches he serves through The Unstuck Group as a strategic analyst.

He covered some amazing stuff, but the Big Idea takeaway that I got from the conversation was that leadership development needs to be baked into every aspect of church life.

He said that volunteer training can’t just happen on a special Sunday morning or during a scheduled training event. And he said that leader development has to be more than a book reading group or special events.

Those things are good, but they should be supplemental to the process of leadership development that’s happening at all times, in every interaction. Ryan gave example after successful example of effective leadership development that didn’t look like a program.

Bottom line: leadership development needs to be a cultural value that weaves its way into every aspect of local church ministry.

Three things I loved about my chat with Ryan:

  1. He knows leadership development like a Stephen Hawking knows the physics.
  2. He sincerely loves local churches.
  3. He talks as fast as I do…which makes it easy to have a 1-hour conversation in 30 minutes.)