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Thursday, March 31, 2016

When volunteers disappoint

This is a sensitive topic. It is about people, hence.

Within my loyal, dedicated, motivated and committed volunteer family, I have some black sheep. Usually it is because their work in real life gets in the way.

When you often use your work as an excuse to fail at your volunteer commitments, to become a mediocre instead of excellent volunteer, you slight the rest of the family who - also - have work in real life. You are saying this to them: "Yeah my work is really important. Not like yours."

The volunteer family believes in excellence, not mediocrity. They don't just volunteer to pass time; they aim to change the climate of cat welfare in Singapore through whatever skills they can master. They are often humble, believing there is more they can learn, more they can change for the better.

Not everyone who loves cats are as noble as my volunteer family. Unfortunately I have some who are in the family that don't have this nobility. It doesn't anger me. It slights me a little. But it utterly disappoints me.

I have no qualms sending what our organisation calls Volunteer Valuation emails to people that need to buck up after failing time and again at various areas. I have no qualms asking these people to leave if they fail to change. I seldom have to do it, but sometimes it is necessary. Leeches need to be removed before they inject too much anti-coagulant into our system.

But I also believe people can be mentored towards becoming better at serving at LKP, becoming more fervent about our mission, taking ownership of the work that we do for cats, and building character values along the way. I always try this method first, sometimes to my own detriment. But I do this because I believe in people, and I love my volunteers as much as I do the cats. Just because cats cannot disappoint me, doesn't mean I don't love my human volunteers.

Which is why disappointment is the biggest emotion when volunteers fail at their tasks, not anger. Because when you love someone, expect their commitment and they fail, you get disappointed, not angry.

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