I want to raise a sensitive issue, one that arises in every setting which relies upon volunteers. What happens when a staff member feels that a volunteer is simply unsuited for the job at hand? Yes, maybe if that staff member hadn’t acted like a body snatcher, pouncing on the first warm body who agreed to volunteer, he might have realized that the person he asked was not the right match for the job required. Or, even when the volunteer had a decent volunteer track record, and a staff person saw the next volunteer opportunity as a way to help that volunteer move to a new level, mismatches still happen. How do you handle those situations?
The potential for conflict and hurt feelings in this situation is real. Volunteers may be heavily invested in the work that they’ve been asked to do and believe that they are doing an outstanding job. To make matters even more complex, the volunteer may be new to the synagogue, or a veteran member with strong social ties to other members, or someone who has contributed significant time or money in the past. You know that this volunteer needs to be removed because he is leading a significant project which can set the synagogue back if it isn’t done well. In each of these scenarios, you know there will be fallout.
When faced with this dilemma, how have you responded? What are the consequences of your decision? What would you do differently in hindsight? Your contribution to this discussion is especially important for the Tools for Shuls book—it’s a hot-button issue that always comes up, so please share your insights.
Thanks for your candid responses!
Rabbi Hayim Herring