The first time I tried getting a job as a teenager I attempted to work at a fast food restaurant that will remain nameless.  Before they would allow me to start “working” I had to learn a few basic things about the business.  What I expected was some level of training…what I received was a few poorly made videos that I watched in the back of the kitchen.  No conversation, no time for questions…just videos on VHS.  When I was almost done with “training” I told the manager I couldn’t work there.  I left and I never looked back!  I did not want to work there because I felt like I was being setup for failure.

To engage new volunteers in the right way and help them become long-term members of the team, you have to set them up for success.  That is the Value of Equipping – people feeling prepared and empowered to add value to a team.  You equip someone when you provide training and give them the tools they need to be a contributing part of the team.  People want to be good at what they do.  Helping people become good at what they do is the way you add value to them and to the team.

There are 3 things to keep in mind as you equip people on your team:

Equipping helps people know how to read the scoreboard.  Team members need to know what matters.  They have to learn how to measure what matters and know how to share what matters.  If you don’t know how to read the scoreboard you will never know if you are helping your team to win.  Teach people what matters and help them learn to read the scoreboard.

Equipping sets a trajectory for good practices.  There is a difference between Triage and Training.  Triage corrects issues in the moment; training builds good practices in from the beginning.  Equip people with good training and you move them in the right direction from day one.

Equipping through training involves 5 key qualities.  In his book Amplified Leadership Dan Reiland talks about 5 key qualities of effective training:

  • Relevance (does it matter?)
  • Variety (is it fresh?)
  • Practicality (is it helpful?)
  • Inspiration (does it connect?)
  • Focus (does it hit the target?)

While there are a variety of rhythms you could pick for equipping your volunteers, I suggest the following 3 training elements:

  • New Volunteer Training – a one-time connect that provides the basic “tools of the trade”
  • Weekly or Monthly Connect – content delivered through email or video which provides fine tuning for the team
  • Annual or Semi-Annual Connect – A gathering for all members of the team to offer inspiration, vision and direction for the next season