Buy In Isn’t Bought (part 4 of 4)

By Tom Davidson

If you’re reevaluating how to motivate this brave new workforce, then here are ten tips for doing so, with elaborations on the last three. 

Today’s paid-volunteer workforce might be compensated for their time, but psychologically they’re more like true volunteers than ever before, requiring managers at every level to reassess how employees should be “motivated.” For example, the paid-volunteer workforce is:

  • Less patient and loyal, having learned to look out for themselves more than their employer because of decades of downsizing.
  • Looking for work that is meaningful to them, not just something to pay the bills.
  • Very choosey about where they spend discretionary time and effort, because they are seeking a more balanced life than previous workforces.

If you’re reevaluating how to motivate this brave new workforce, then here are ten tips for doing so, with elaborations on the last three. Previous blogs enumerated the first seven. 

Ten Tips (not tricks) for Motivating the Paid-Volunteer Workforce 

1. Treat them with respect. 

2. Put them in jobs that interest them the most. 

3. Show them how what they do, matters. 

4. Give them as much choice as possible. 

5. Get them involved in the decisions that affect them. 

6. When something has to be decided without them, then get their fingerprints on it anyway. 

7. Get them the training and tools they need. 

8. Ask for their help.
The paid-volunteer workforce wants to be asked, not told, what to do. They’re educated, skilled and internally motivated to do a good job already, without your exhortations. Rather than telling them what to do and how to do it, trying telling them what’s need and why, then asking their help in how to accomplish it.

9. Trust them to do their work but verify that they are on track.
As long as your workforce has the tools, skills and direction they need to do their jobs, the leader should allow them to proceed without being micromanaged. However, while you trust them to do their work (as Ronald Regan famously stated), you still need to verify that they are on track. To do this, the leader needs to provide clear mileposts, interim goals and metrics so that progress is transparent and verifiable.

10. Hold them accountable because the rest of the team is watching.
Treat your employees like volunteers but your volunteers like employees. This means that in addition to using the motivation principles that apply to true volunteers use the accountability principles that apply to paid-employees. Without oversight, tracking progress and holding people accountable, you could be letting down your most well meaning and hardest working associates. 

Successful managers of the paid-volunteer workforce would do well to learn from the top ten tips learned by managers of true volunteers. The real test of leadership is if one can mobilize and manage a group of true volunteers, because they don’t have to be there, don’t have to stay for long and don’t have to give their fullest effort.

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