How to coach cheerleaders

The Cheerleader - The role in which most volunteers begin.

Photo credit to: prc1333

If you have recruited, trained, and deployed volunteers you have experienced a lot of cheerleaders. Many organizations and businesses cling to Jim Collin's principal in Good to Great: get the right people on the bus and get them in the right seats. As leaders we nod our heads like a three year old asked if they want a piece of candy, "Yesssss," we say. The principle sounds right to us. It's all about the RIGHT PEOPLE, RIGHT SEATS.

So you go on the recruitment trail, you find talented people, and you invite them on the bus. You train them, you have them sign a commitment or job description, and then you assign them to their seat. All right, everyone is on the bus, in the right seats. You hammer down the gas pedal, the bus starts to move but then you see them. The volunteers you just recruited are all on the street. When did they get off the bus!? They are cheering. They are holding up signs that read, "You're awesome, we believe in you, go you!" In your confusion you run over the curb, jerk the wheel back swerving across traffic and run the bus into a car full of nuns. Now it's crises mode and there is no one on the bus and the cheerleaders have left because you already drove by and they did their assumed job.

Dramatic? Maybe. Has it happened to you? Probably. (Okay, you might not have driven a bus into a car full of nuns but I know you've felt confused on the actions of volunteers after you thought you had been clear)

So what happened? Ninety percent of the time people assume a good volunteer is a good cheerleader. They say things like, "I love what you guys do, it's so important. If I can help please let me know." Or they might say, "What you're doing impacted me and I want to support this." Is anything wrong with this? No, if you feel that way it's a good thing but what most leaders need are workers and less cheerleaders.

How do we coach cheerleaders into hard workers?

1. Pray for workers with your cheerleaders - Jesus was spending time in large crowds when he tells his friends

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38)

As a leader I can read that and see an assignment, which is to pray for people I don't know yet to come and work in the harvest field. Is that what Jesus is saying? Could I suggest he is saying, "Hey! Numbskulls! Do you see the opportunity here or are you going to sit, watch, and cheer me on? Pray that God makes a worker out of you!" You have to bring cheerleaders right into the thick of whatever it is you are called to do. Stand them right in the middle of it and ask them to pray for workers. They might have a light bulb moment and realize they can work.

2. 90 Days - Be laser focused on training for the first 90 days. Do the basics of training: 1. Watch me do it. 2. Come with me and do it. 3. You go do it. 4. Teach me how to do it. At the end of 90 days if the volunteer can do step four you've done excellent training.

3. Delegate results - When delegation is used properly the other person is set up to use their gifts, grow as a leader, and increase in ownership. Leaders stump this growth when they delegate actions and micromanage. Speak belief into a person and allow them to use their own creativity to produce the result, they will begin to take on the role of a worker.

4. Say well done! - If you don't tell people good job you deserve a kick in the pants. Catching people doing things right is critical in the transformation from cheerleader to worker. What you affirm in people says more to them about what you're asking them to do than a job description.

If you do these things you will create a culture of workers. A culture of workers will gather a great harvest.

Please leave a comment on how you coach cheerleaders to become workers or what helped you make the transition yourself?