It started slowly. So slowly, I ignored it until it became a big deal. But my gut was telling me – this just isn’t working.
But they were so nice. They had everything I was looking for and seemed really interested at the start. No, I’m not talking about a great date that just never called again. I’m talking about working with a volunteer that isn’t able to deliver.
We had such a great start together. They were really keen about the role and had a lot of relevant experience. We spent lots of time talking about our mutual interests, what we expected, what the ultimate goal was. They seemed to have it all under control.
And then they started down the communication drain hole - not returning my calls as quickly, days passing by without an update. They started pushing back deadlines. Others noticed it wasn’t working, but I kept saying – they’ve told me they can deliver and I’m going to wait and see. I was determined to make it work. After all, it was so promising at the start.
Firing a volunteer is never an item on your to-do list you are motivated to tackle immediately. Plus, you’re left with the question – who will do the work now? Because we all know it still has to be done.
What I’ve learned is dragging it out when it isn’t working doesn’t get you closer to getting the work done. It just gets you further and further into a hole that’s harder and harder to get out of. You have to address it and move on.
The other thing I’ve learned – thanks to my bright friend Trish LaNauze from Charlford House Society for Women – is usually it’s not just your gut talking. The other person is likely feeling the same way, but they don’t know how to walk away. They’re probably feeling guilty, stressed and embarrassed.
Give them an out (the wise words of Trish). You don’t have to jump right to the break-up conversation (I don’t think this is working out….). Start by stating what you see happening - it seems like you’re not interested in, or don’t have time to commit to this project anymore. Then throw it to them – how are you feeling about it? You’ve just handed them an out. And chances are they’ll take it. This is their opportunity to walk away gracefully - and still remain friends.
And what if they end of up being one of those I-can-change- give-me-one-more-chance-types? Well, I’m pretty sure your gut will know what to do.
Annastasia Forst contributed her creative and analytic work ethic (not an oxymoron) to Vantage Point as a past Director of Learning. She is passionate about working with many talented knowledge philanthropists to develop, deliver and evaluate Vantage Point’s board and executive leadership...