Those members like “Conflict of Interest Carrie” and “Loose Lip Larry” give a bad name to the 99% that volunteer authentically, selflessly and transparently in our chambers and associations. However, when we do get a “Carrie” or “Larry” along the way, how can we transition them from an existing leadership or involvement role? It is a sticky situation and the association or chamber can have tools in place to assist with these unproductive volunteers.
Volunteer Removal Rationale – Volunteer removal could be considered for several reasons such as: violating governing documents (e.g. bylaws, policies, code of conduct); not fulfilling specified duties or obligations; and behavior that creates or perpetuates negative conflict. However, some vehicles and documents need to be in place to guide or support a potential removal such as: Bylaws; Policies; Code of conduct; Established/formal removal process.
Positives/Negatives – A few of the “positives” in removing a volunteer in your chamber or association might be things like: making room for new volunteers; improved environment/culture; ability to attract a different type of volunteer; and improve the reputation of the organization’s volunteer experience. Some of the negatives to consider might be: losing a volunteer resulting in the domino effect of more volunteers leaving because of their departure; potential legal action if not done properly; damage to the reputation of the volunteer or organization; and the inability to communicate the “why” in process.
Volunteer Review Process – If the volunteer is elected/appointed, the existing governance structure should provide an existing formal process. This process typically includes graduated steps toward to resolution with action potentially resulting in a reprimand, censure, or removal. However, if a volunteer has stepped forward as a self-selected volunteer or leader, the process may be informal in consultation with others. This process could feature consulting or coaching in to a different volunteer position in the organization if appropriate. It is always important to be empathetic and transparent with the volunteer so the potential removal allows the volunteer to save face with their peers and profession.
- Use Jim Collins’ concept of having the “right people” in the “right seats” on the bus.
- Ensure volunteers step forward for the right reasons to get involved (e.g. conflict of interest).
- Set clear volunteer expectations and commitments (e.g. time, resources, role).
- Consider if the volunteer is in the wrong role or commitment.
- Unexpected situations emerge in a volunteer’s personal or professional life impacting free time.
- Have a formal volunteer review and removal process in place.
- It’s OK to let them go.