Many articles have been writen to offer guidance in coping with a difficult volunteer. This article specifically examines how to take corrective action in dealing with a controlling volunteer. A controlling person can certainly mess up a volunteer program in so many ways. Some of the problems that could surface as a result of having a controlling volunteer are as follows:
- Friction between the controlling person and other volunteers, staff or clients. This friction will lead to unpleasant actions by others in order to avoid the volunteer who controls.
- Services provided by volunteers may be disruptive because the focus is no longer on the client needs rather it is in coping with the problems arising from the controlling volunteer.
- The good will rapport between the volunteer service being provide will start to diminish.
- The controlling volunteer will intimidate other volunteers from providing valued input into the volunteer service being provided.
- If the problems continue to multiply as a result of the controlling person's behahaviour other volunteers will likely exit from the service being provided.
To cope with this problem some action on the part of coordinator of volunteer resources is required. The approach to deal with this problem needs to be highly professional. I would suggest implementing the Progressive Corrective Action (PCA) plan. This plan of action is a three step process.
1. Meet with the volunteer and explain to this person how controlling behaviours are causing problems within the volunteer program. Before this meeting it is important that the coordinator of volunteer services documents the specifics of when this controlling behaviour surfaced in the past and the resulting problems that were caused; it is desirable to record the actual place, date and time. Coming out of this meeting with the problem volunteer it is important to communicate what changes in behaviour that need to change; clear expectations are important in order to be fair to the person in question and give them a chance to change. In fact in order to be supportive it is important to establish a timeline for the change to occur and to offer means for the volunteer to take some training or counselling. Don't forget to document the meeting thoroughly and identify where the meeting was held on what day and at what time.
2. If the controlling behaviour continues to be problematic then a second meeting is required. Again one clearly identifies incidents of when and where the controlling took place and the precipating problems it created. As in step one a corrective action plan is clearly identified, however this time the volunteer is advised that any further occurrence of the controlling behaviour surfacing will lead to dismissal from the volunteer program. It is important to identify the expected and desirable behaviour you want to see. This step is followed by a written memorandum to the volunteer detailing what needs to occur on behalf of the volunteer's behaviour, a timeline for change and if no changes occur, if the controlling behaviour persists then dismissal from the volunteer program will follow.
3. The third step is dismissal. A registered letter is sent to the volunteer explaining that no satisfying changes have occurred and that you are terminating this person as a volunteer.
By taking the above steps you are being fair to the volunteer giving them every opportunity to correct their controlling behaviour. No one likes to dismiss anyone particularly a volunteer, however, for the sake of the well-being of any volunteer service one person should not be allowed degrade the efforts of other volunteers.