A QUESTION OF BALANCE:
Nurturing potential via voluntary organisations
in which people give enormous amounts of their life to the work, and in which
people are giving a great deal and getting very little, need to ask what the
is the cost to the work?
is possible to devote a great deal of time and effort to the job without being
very effective. People may not be
taking time to stand back and reflect on their work; development may be
restricted as people repeat existing skills rather than learning new ones.
Those who are new may have fresh ideas and a different perspective.
Without time taken to assess current skills, redistribute
tasks, and plan training, the organisation will fail to be as effective
as it could be.
is the cost to the people?
the job done", no matter what the cost to staff and volunteers can lead to
poor health, damage to relationships and self esteem, ineffective work, and
dangers in the workplace. Staff may
burn out, have accidents, leave or
withdraw from the team. Personal
animosities can develop because differences are left to fester and a high
turnover of staff can make the delivery of the service inconsistent and
disjointed. Paid staff may even
find themselves stuck - unable to get another job because of their own low self
esteem, or because of poor references and feeling they are not valued, or not
doing their best for the organisation long after they enjoy it, and feel guilty
about wanting to leave. Others fail
to turn up, but have no opportunity to say why their commitment is wavering.
What are the costs to the service user?
the organisation focuses only on the task, then in the short term the users of
the service will probably get a good deal.
In the long term though the service on offer may deteriorate.
People may drift away and it will be hard to encourage new users.
The reputation of the organisation in the local community may be damaged
and the effectiveness of the service therefore compromised.
QUESTION OF BALANCE
is the key to effective work, and people working with voluntary organisations
need to consider their own personal balance in terms of their work pattern and
A balanced work pattern:
from the job
from the job
A balanced lifestyle:
managers and funders of the organisation also need to consider the balance
between task and process within the time available for work.
Balance of task and process
of the service
of new ideas
of external consultant
the balance is right the benefits will be substantial.
benefits to the organisation
be really effective an organisation must build in time to review and evaluate
progress, to check priorities and to ensure that staff are trained and
supported. Investing in staff and
volunteers results in better work, a greater likelihook of achieving the aims
and a better chance of surviving the difficult changes facing many voluntary
organisations in the nineties.
benefits to the people
with entrepreneurial flair, who use inventive and ingenious ways to work with
few resources, still need training and time to look at the process of their
work, how they work together, how
they support each other, and how effective they are.
It is important to find the right sort of training properly to meet their
needs, and one which does not force them into a commercial or statutory sector
model of work.
which are rooted in caring values have a moral duty to care for their staff and
volunteers. If people give of
themselves at work, they deserve and should learn to expect investment in them
refresh and challenge them;
inform and improve knowledge and skills;
help deal positively with change and disappointment;
ensure they contribute effectively to the work.
is obvious that if staff feel valued and respected they will work better.
Benefits to the service users
the service is effectively organised, able to adapt to new circumstances, manage
change, listen to the views of the users, and
model a way of valuing its staff, then service users will recognise this and
want to be a part of it.
like Framework can contribute to this quest for balance in voluntary
organisations. We ourselves model a
way of working which allows us a proper balance between giving and getting; we
take time to get training, supervision, and to review; we spend time together,
and we balance our work with other interests.
our work with organisations we work with staff and volunteers both on the
content of their work, e.g. an organisational review or a planning day - and on
the way in which they do that work, e.g. a training needs analysis or training
on communication. In this way
organisations are reminded of the balance between the task and the process, and
will become more effective as a result.
special thanks to Framework colleagues]
author of this article works with Framework North.
Penny describes Framework as an independent sector organisation
delivering training and consultancy to the not-for-profit sector.
can be contacted at: