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Team spirit without common goal?

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Volunteer workers

As member of the board of a small non-profit organization, the board of directors had recently a discussion with the project manager about the difficulties to manage a team of employees and volunteers. He was explaining the daily conflicts and tensions he has to manage, which is not an easy task for different reasons.

To describe the context, we have to know that some employees are hired in a reintegration framework. These people lost they jobs in the past, they lost the workless allowances. It means that these people are socially weakened. This reintegration program help them to find again a place in the society, to trust themselves and to reintegration the job market. These people need to be managed with clear objectives and instructions. Within the organization, these employees have to work with volunteers, and as mentioned before, the collaboration is not always on the top.

On one side, we have employees who are linked to the organization by a work contract, with clearly defined duties and objectives. They know that if they are not respecting certain rules or defined duties in their work contract, they can be sanctioned. On the other side, we have volunteers who have no specific contractual link and duties, but only a moral commitment. The tensions who are appearing is that some volunteers are doing what they want to do, and not always what has to be done. They do not accept any remarks from the employees, and the employees have difficulties to accept remarks from volunteers “who have no specific obligations and who are there for their own satisfaction and not to sustain the common goal.”

By observing this situation, we think immediately to the necessity to define goals and objectives of the organization, and to describe how each person can operate and interact to make the assigned project feasible. By describing clear goals and assigned roles to the team members, employees as volunteers, we have to ask them first if they are subscribing to the project, if there is a matching between the needs of the project and their expectations. This is an essential condition to be filled by the hired employes, but also for the volunteers. I would say that this condition is more important for the volunteers who are only linked to the project by a moral commitment. They have to understand that they have to contribute to the project on a efficient way, to operate on a collaborative way with the employees. By doing like this, they are contributing to the achievement of the targets of the organization, but they are helping also the employees hired in this reintegration program to achieve goals, to trust themselves and to empower their social links.

This situation shows how it is important to clearly define and explain what are the objectives of a project and what are the objectives of each member of the project team. They have to perceive that each project has to be structured and organized, and that each member of the team has to play a specific role. The projects are taking place in an profit or non-organization, where structure, organization and team spirit are the essential key factors of success, and that there is no personal success without common success. Peter Drucker was used to say: “Management by objective works, if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time, you don’t.”

Picture source: http://www.benevolat01.org

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 10, 2010 at 00:29

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