Hard-To-Fill Jobs

by Stephanie Dohner

When it seems difficult to fill a particular volunteer slot, a number of causes are possible:

1. The job is too big, needs very specialized skills, or requires that a person work during time periods when few people are available.

It should be a paid position.

Marie ran the Sunday School for 30 years as a labor of love. Health problems force her to retire. There is no one in the society who could put in the hours Marie did. The society wants to maintain and, eventually, expand the religious education program. Its board of trustees should ask the RE committee (if there is one), or an ad hoc committee (if there is no RE committee) to work with Marie in developing a job description and a plan for hiring a full-time RE director. Including Marie in the process honors her for creating a professional job, instead of discarding her for a professional.

2. The job is considered to be unpleasant.

Asking people for money is often considered a dirty job. Unfortunately, a pledge campaign (and just about any other campaign) requires that a large number of people do just that. It is often hard to fill the slots with people who are really comfortable doing it. In addition, those least qualified may be asked to contact the most reluctant givers. Developing a pledge committee requires skill and patience. It should not be done the week before the pledge drive.

3. The job is unnecessary.

If a committee has outlived its usefulness, or a job was created by the only person who thought it necessary, and has since moved on, it is time to retire the position. For example, the janitorial committee, who kept up the building before a person was hired to do maintenance work, now hang out with each other and tell the employee how to do the job. This committee needs to be gently, but firmly, retired.

4. The job is boring.

“Boring” is in the eyes of the bored, but a routine job, such as envelope stuffing, can get a reputation as something that is not asked of the more talented members. Such jobs. when necessary, should be advertised as social occasions, with refreshments. No one should be asked to do them as a routine, unless they honestly like to.

5. There is no problem with the actual job, but the volunteer would be forced to work with a difficult person.

If the “difficult person” is really problematic for everyone, then the situation needs to be faced by removing the person, if the job is important. A “difficult person” who is chair of a committee can, however, merely be someone who expects a lot from committee members. It is wise to sort this out. This may be either a problem to be fixed or a polarity to be managed.