Volunteering is the essential practice of
giving more than you are contracted for
Volunteering demonstrates that you have a positive,
proactive attitude towards you work. It will not go
unnoticed. Be a mindful volunteer.
Always be the one to raise your hand when your boss asks for a
volunteer. Too often there will be an uneasy silence and people
will mumble to themselves, ‘I’m too busy’ or ‘I’ve got too much
on my plate already’.
It doesn’t matter. No matter what is on
your plate volunteer for more. In
theory there is a limit to what you can
do during sensible hours of hard work
but in practice there is always scope
It is the volunteers who get noticed, who get extra points during
those crucial moments of summing up when top executives
decide who should get the job. Volunteering is also fun. It brings
new experiences and challenges together with a break from the
daily grind. Volunteering refreshes the mind and provides a
stimulus to explore new territory.
Furthermore do not just volunteer for the ‘juicy jobs’ (the two-
week project in Cape Town) but also for those jobs nobody else
wants to touch (addressing the congestion problem in the
company car park). I recall attending my first senior executive
meeting when the chief executive commented, ‘We really do
need someone to sort out the car parking problem – it’s been
festering for such a long time.’ Everyone looked at me – the new
boy. I volunteered. Another colleague later informed me I had
wa nte d
It is the volunteers
who get noticed. It is
the volunteers who
are wanted in any
taken on a poisoned chalice – nobody had been able to sort out
the car parking problem in five years. It was sorted.
Volunteering can relate to any type of job and to any activity,
whether it is volunteering to work over the weekend to clear up a
major backlog of work or to take a six-month secondment ‘up
North’ to resuscitate an ailing branch operation.
In terms of motivation seeking volunteers is far more effective
than imposing additional tasks on unwilling employees. The use
of volunteers becomes a helpful selection tool as it identifies
those who are more motivated than others, more hard working,
more imaginative and more prepared to stretch themselves.
The corollary is that if you volunteer you must do it. There are
people who volunteer and then neglect the very task they have
taken on board. This happens in organisations where people are
rarely called to account and lame excuses are accepted at face
value. To be an effective volunteer you must be serious about the
new project in addition to any ongoing work you are still
PRA C T I CA L TI P
Do not hesitate when your boss seeks a volunteer for an
important project. Be the first to raise your hand –
irrespective of your current workload. You will manage and
everyone will benefit.