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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 104
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

2012 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

A warm welcome to all volunteer managers-those of you who recruit, motivate and mobilize volunteer workers.

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In This Issue
  1. Featured Article: Why Are We Dissing Gen Y Volunteers When They Have So Much to Offer?
Featured Article: Why Are We Dissing Gen Y Volunteers When They Have So Much to Offer?
By Thomas McKee

"You are not going to diss on Gen Y are you? We are getting so tired of people tearing them down. If you are going to do that, we don't want you to speak to our group because we are finding that they are some of our best workers. They are creative, hard working and energetic compared to the cynical long-term employees who are just marking time until they can retire."

Who said those words? You will never guess. It was the head of human resources for a large business.

This month I am going to be speaking to the Oklahoma Human Resources Leadership Conference (OKHR). When talking with the program chairman, he asked me if I would mention the generational conflict in volunteer organizations. When I said that I often do, he warned me with the "Just don't diss on Gen Y-we are getting tired of it" comment.

These words were said by a human resources director-someone who actually supervises the hiring and firing of workplace employees. I was excited to hear his words because we have been talking about the untapped potential of this generation as volunteers for the last ten years (when the oldest Gen Y was only 20). When writing the book, The New Breed, I asked the co-author of the book, Jonathan McKee (who is also my son), to research and write about this generation because he is a leading authority on the "texting generation." His website and blog draw an average of 125,000 people a month. He has written nine books about connecting with teenagers, and he speaks to over 15,000 parents and youth workers each year, giving them practical insights about how to connect with young people today. He recently wrote this description about our generational leadership workshop.

Understanding, Recruiting and Leading the Texting Generation

The under 30 generation, the Millennials, are often called the "texting generation." How does a director of volunteer services communicate to this tech savvy generation who can't go 5 minutes without checking their Facebook status on their new smartphone? Can we even get their attention, and when we do, can we keep it for more than 30 seconds? Are they as dedicated as previous generations? How can we assure ourselves that they will follow through? In this workshop you will take a peek into the unique and rapidly changing world of this "texting generation," how they communicate and work with others, and how to recruit and lead them as volunteers in our organizations.

Jonathan's comments are written to provoke interest. He does not rip on the generation, but he does recognize that communicating with the texting generation is different.

While I was preparing my presentation for the OKHR Leadership Conference, I came across this article from Career Builder entitled, Gen Y's impact in the workplace by Amy Chulik, CareerBuilder Writer. She has something to say to those of us who recruit and lead Gen Ys in our organizations as she outlines eight factors that define the unique work strengths that they bring to the work place and also to our organizations as volunteers. Below I have greatly condensed her eight factors that define the Gen Y workplace expectations. I encourage you to read her article, Gen Y's impact in the workplace. It is enlightening.

Eight factors that describe Gen Y workplace strengths
  • Work ethic-not length of stay, but how hard you work: Job loyalty is not shown by how long you stay around. It is shown by how hard you work.
  • Tech savvy-not so much tech knowledge, but tech dependent: They're the generation that's come of age with the explosion of technology, so it's natural that they would be comfortable with it.
  • Communication and teamwork-not assertive leaders, but "team players": You can often count on Gen Yers to spread out the message fast and often. . . . that throughout Gen Y's public education, the majority of the work was done in groups, and that their role wasn't usually as the leader of a group -- instead, many were "equal" team members. Therefore, many Gen Y members function fairly well as a group and as "team players," but some struggle in standing out as individual, assertive leaders.
  • Money-not shy about asking how much you make: Discussing how much money you make is one of the last great American taboos -- yet Gen Y seems more comfortable with discussing this sort of information.
  • Recognition-no losers, everyone is a winner: Gen Y is a generation of the "everyone's a winner" mentality. They got this from Mr. Rogers and their Gen X parents who got it from their boomer parents. Gen Yers don't care how it gets done --they just want to get it done. And they want to be told they did a good job once they do it; recognition is very important.
  • Diversity-not just white or male leadership: This generation has grown up with a greater awareness of and comfort with diversity of all kinds. From home lives, to school experiences, to messages absorbed from pop culture, they often don't see what all the fuss is. This can manifest as difficulty in understanding why others struggle with issues around differences.
  • Work versus life-not love of job, but I love my life more -- Gen Y workers in particular (though they're not alone) want to know how they can maintain their relationship with work while still having the flexibility to live the life they envision. They were raised with the imperative to "follow your dreams!" Their job and life may intersect in new ways than we've seen in past generations.
  • Being green-not just lip service, but leading the green movement: They want to make the changes and become leaders in your organization's (existing or non-existing) green movement.
The workplace is changing to embrace this generation. It is not an easy transition, but it is happening in the workplace and it must happen in our organizations that depend on volunteers. I was greatly encouraged last summer when I read Time Magazine's report by Joe Klein, The New Greatest Generation, about the impact of the veterans who are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these young men and women are making a difference and bring a whole new perspective to the 21st century workplace and volunteering.

But one of the biggest differences in the generations is how they work together. Klein notes:

The returning veterans are bringing skills that seem to be on the wane in American society, qualities we really need now: crisp decisionmaking, rigor, optimism, entrepreneurial creativity, a larger sense of purpose and real patriotism (as opposed to self-righteous flag waving). Indeed, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required a new military skill set, far more sophisticated than for previous conflicts - and far different from the yes-sir, no-sir rote discipline that most civilians associate with the military. "World War I was fought by large units like battalions," says John Nagl, a former Army officer who is chairman of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a Washington think tank almost entirely staffed by this new generation of veterans. "World War II was fought by companies. Vietnam, by platoons. The current wars are all about small teams who have to interact with the local Iraqi and Afghan populations. That has required a different kind of soldier."

Just as these teams require a different kind of soldier, our volunteer teams require a different kind of volunteer. I applaud the Oklahoma Human Resource Leadership Conference that embraces Gen Y. And I encourage all of us who work with volunteers to recognize this talented and energetic group of volunteers. As the workplace is changing to the communication and leadership styles of the young, we need to check out just how we are adapting our organization to embrace Gen Y.

In my article, "Do you have a Gen Y friendly volunteer culture?" I have a short self examination quiz about your volunteer culture (it is in the middle of the article). Run it off and give to your leaders to test your culture. That self evaluation can help you jump start your way to involving a generation of Gen Y volunteers.

Volunteer Power Key-Notes, Workshops, Or An Education Day
The New Breed of Volunteer
A Volunteer Power Workshop
Recruiting and leading the 21st Century volunteers who want to do it their way

Workshop Content

The questions: Volunteerism is hot. From American Idol, Disneyland, Glee, Lady Gaga, President Obama to Wells Fargo, Intel and Wal-Mart, giving back is the rage.

  • How do we take advantage of this trend in our organization?
  • How do we mobilize the passion and power of volunteers in a culture that sometimes stifles passion and professionalism because management only allows volunteers to stuff envelops?
The answer: A 21st Century leadership strategy. We need to know how to impact our volunteer culture so that we can recruit and empower a whole new breed of volunteers.

The 21st century volunteer culture is very different because of tectonic shifts that have changed volunteer leadership. These shifts have impacted the volunteer organization; therefore, how we recruit and lead the New Breed of volunteer is a whole new game. The tectonic shifts include the following:

  • Twitch Speed - The core characteristic of Lady Gaga is speed. She is doing in 10 minutes what it took Madonna ten years to achieve. How nimble is your organization in responding to today's volunteers?
  • Generations - Gen Y and retiring boomers-the new frontier of volunteers
  • Technology - The addition of social networks as a leadership tool
  • Empowerment - The knowledge worker demands to be led - not managed
  • Slacktivism - Getting involved with the click of a mouse
  • Episodic Volunteering - Sign up for only short-term projects or only when unemployed
A LEADER OF VOLUNTEERS STRATEGY: In this workshop you will learn ...
  • How to manage change: How to interpret a changing culture
  • How to empower the volunteer without dropping the ball
  • How to coach your volunteers instead of manage them: The four stages of coaching
  • How to frame your recruiting message in order to transition slactivists and episodic volunteers into valuable non-paid staff
Contact us to book a workshop, key-note presentation.

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