The Accidental Volunteer Manager
© DJ Cronin 2010
Setting: Hope Hospital
Hospital Board meeting
Chair: Right then, that appears to be all that we have to discuss unless there is any other business
Director 1: Oh yes – I forgot to mention – we’ve lost our Volunteer Manager
Chair: We had a volunteer manager?
Director 2: We have volunteers here?
Director1 : Indeed we do - 200 to be precise and their manager just had a heart attack.
Chair: How terrible – so we need a new volunteer manager then?
Director 1 : Indeed we do
Chair: Mmmm. Are they paid?
Director 1: indeed they are
Director 2: Why are they called volunteer manager then? Imagine me being called Volunteer director of nursing? Haw haw haw.
Chair: Right..so we recruit internally or externally?
Director 3: well actually this could be an opportunity for us at HR. I recruited someone to the position of HR assistant manager a few months ago
Director 2: not the unfortunate named Mr. Bucket?
Director: Yes: the very man. He’s not really working out for us but we could transfer him to this voluntary manager role or whatever it is
Chair: Ok. Make it so. And then can you please ensure we get someone competent this time for the HR role? Good. Meeting over then.
HR Managers office
HR Man : Thank you for taking the time to see me Mr Bucket
Bucket: Look, I know things haven’t worked out so you can save the crap and tell me to go now. It’s the end of my probation period anyway
HR Man: Well yes Mr Bucket, obviously we’ve had some issues but I still see you as having a future with our hospital and in fact we would like to offer you another managerial role
Bucket: Really? That’s great:
HR Man: well yes, er..you will need to take a drop in wages though
HR Man: a substantial one in fact…but this role will give you a chance to prove yourself. See it as a stepping stone back into more senior management again
Bucket: Good grief – what are you offering me here - management of the morgue?
HR Man: Not quite. The volunteers
Bucket: The volunteers? Me? To manage? But…I’ve never done that before
HR Man: It will be a cinch. It will be the ideal training ground for you to attain a good position in Human Resource Management
Bucket: Look, ive seen them around the place in their purple tops but I haven’t a clue what they do?
HR Man: Apparently no one else in senior management knows either…heheeh..so don’t worry
Bucket: How many volunteers do we employ?
Hr man: None! They are not paid remember?
Bucket: Ok how many volunteers exist here?
HR Man – apparently 200 or so
Bucket: Good grief. When do I start?
HR Man: as soon as you leave this office. We do have a lady by the name of Jan. Apparently she works as a part time volunteer coordinator 3 days a week. She will meet with you at your new office and fill you in on what you have to do. Apparently she is very sweet and nice and has been in her role for 20 odd years.
Bucket – and that’s it?
HR Man – Yes. Good luck.
Volunteer manager’s office
Knock on door
Bucket: Come in please…ah..you must be Jan our volunteer coordinator
Jan: Yes hello Mr. Shovel
Bucket: Its Bucket Jan
Jan: Goodness. I am so sorry
Bucket: Never mind – please have a seat. Now Jan. I won’t beat around the bush. I am the new manager of this area and I’ve had years managing different departments. I’m a fair man but I expect my workers to work hard and to be tight and to meet all deadlines. I expect loyalty to me and to the company. I want our department to be results driven. And I will tell you this straight up Jan..I will not tolerate slackers on the team.
Jan: er…ok….have you managed volunteers before?
Bucket: No Jan I have not. And that’s neither here or there right now.
Jan: Ok..do you know what they do?
Bucket: I can have a guess. I imagine mostly stuffing envelopes and making charts. I would hazzard a guess that most of it is menial stuff as our retired community don’t exactly want anything too taxing in their twilight years what what?
Jan: You said what what?
Bucket: Did I? Never mind. So tell me how do you coordinate the old dearies?
Jan: if I may say Mr. Bucket, your impression of the volunteering team is very wrong to begin with. In fact the makeup of volunteerism has changed dramatically over the years and we are dealing with varying dynamics now in volunteering whether those be the motivations for volunteering, the demographics both culturally and age wise in volunteering and of course the episodic nature of the volunteering act that has challenged us to be more flexible and indeed more dynamic in how we coordinate this shifting and fluid movement.
(There is a long long pause as Mr Bucket stares at Jan gob smacked)
Jan: Furthermore I must inform you that our volunteers vary in age from 16 to 92. Volunteers will not stay if they are given sedentary and menial jobs unless of course those types of tasks are of their own choosing. The motivations for volunteering are not just altruistic Mr. Bucket
Mr Bucket: Altruistic? Please explain?
Jan: I suggest if you are going to be our manager that you look up that word in the dictionary. Furthermore may I suggest you read up a little on Volunteer Management?
Mr Bucket: I beg your pardon. I will not tolerate such insolence on day one from you and…
Jan: and I will not tolerate such ignorance from you on day one! You have debased and insulted volunteers in your first 30 seconds. These people do a wonderful job here day in and day out and I am getting sick of people being given the role of volunteer manager without any thought. People who are using it as a stepping stone into something else. People who take on the role because they feel it’s safe and cuddly and people who take on the role because they feel they wouldn’t be able to get away with managing any other sort of program!
Mr Bucket: well why didn’t you go for the job yourself then?
Jan: Because it wasn’t advertised this time! And as a matter of fact I have been offered the job before. But I can only work part time due to family circumstances. I turned down the position of manager because I feel part time would not do it justice..and I said as Much to the powers that be. This is a very busy volunteer program Mr Bucket and getting bigger. It deserves a serious and professional full time manager!
Mr Bucket: I see. Let’s move right along shall we. So your office is in the next building which is called the volunteer shack and there are volunteers working there too around some tables doing some sort of work I believe..
Jan: Yes..if I can take you through the roles that our volunteers..
Mr Bucket: Yes yes yes..we shall get to that later. I believe you’ve also written a report on daily activity. I will catch up on that today. I see you have set up a team meeting for tomorrow. Excellent I can get to know our volunteers. Are all of them coming?
Jan: all of them? Good grief no. We have around 40 attending
Mr Bucket? : Only 40? Out of 200? That’s not good. Did you not make the meeting mandatory?
Mr Bucket: Oh never mind. I guess I will catch up with all of them eventually what what?
Jan: er…sure. Now if you will excuse me I do have an interview to do.Shall we catch up later?
Mr Bucket? A volunteer interview? Excellent! I will take it Jan.
Jan: are you sure?
Mr Bucket? Of course. What role are they applying for?
Jan: they haven’t specified. He wants to volunteer somewhere in the hospital and is coming in to discuss options.
Mr Bucket: He?
Jan: yes. Why?
Mr Bucket: oh nothing. I just thought that women mostly volunteered.
Jan: Actually no. 40% of our volunteers are male
Mr Bucket: Extraordinary.
Jan: why is that so extraordinary?
Mr Bucket: I just didn’t realise men were into it
Jan: Oh good heavens.
Mr Bucket: right right. Send whoever he is in to me.
Jan: ok..do you want me to sit in on the interview with you?
Mr Bucket: absolutely not! I am sure you have some work to be carrying on with:
Jan: but you don’t even know what positions we offer
Mr Bucket: I have our brochure here with all we do – I will be fine. Don’t you worry about me. I have conducted hundreds of interviews in my HR positions
Jan: That’s what I am worried about
Mr Bucket: what what?
Jan: Never mind. Our prospective volunteer is waiting Mr Bucket
Mr Bucket: wonderful! Send him in. Oh..by the way..how long do you usually spend on interviews?
Jan: about 45 minutes to an hour
Mr Bucket: Good grief..whatever in heavens name do you spend all that time on? Never mind. Send the bloke into me please!
To be continued……
Tune in next time for the continuing saga of “The Accidental Volunteer Manager”! Watch Mr Bucket conduct his first volunteer interview, meet members of his team and stumble from one disaster to another…and this only on day one!
Will he survive? Will Jan survive? will volunteers survive?
Come back for more and see why the critics are raving about “The Accidental Volunteer Manager”
“Cutting edge……if you never read another play let this be it’” The Irish Sparrow
“ Mr Cronin has gone too far this time. His sarcasm turns my stomach” The Cameron Times
“ Mr Bucket is our modern day hero” – HR Views
"this is a very good representation of reality in some places. This would rival "The Office" or "The Librarians" as a TV series." - Wendy Moore, Volunteer coordinator, writer and international thinker.
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