How Wet Is your Well? – The Importance of Readiness Assessment

There is an old fable by Aesop that talks of two frogs. The two frogs lived together in a marsh. But one hot summer the marsh dried up, and they left it to look for another place to live in: for frogs like damp places if they can get them. By and by they came to a deep well, and one of them looked down into it, and said to the other, “This looks a nice cool place. Let us jump in and settle here.” But the other, who had a wiser head on his shoulders, replied, “Not so fast, my friend. Supposing this well dried up like the marsh, how should we get out again?”

The moral of the story: “Look before you leap.”

And yet when we talk about the benefits of using Self Directed Teams it is all too tempting to ‘leap’ directly into using them for your organization. We suggest instead taking the time to look first and truly assess whether your organization is ready to adopt the concept. The SDVN Readiness Assessment can help you to do this.
Embarking on the process of incorporating a self directed volunteer team into your organization is not a process to be taken lightly. An honest constructive look inward into your own organization and it’s readiness to start this journey will greatly mitigate against unforeseen risks. Remember that performing a readiness assessment test is not something that need, or should, be completed alone. To perform a thorough examination other stakeholders will need to be involved in the process. Doing so will indirectly help communicate to them how the model will work and help to garner support.

Our readiness assessment process focuses on eight key factors that we think of as being some of the most important:

  1.  Awareness Building & Planning
    i.e. How will the current staff ‘buy in’ to the idea of engaging volunteers in new roles? Are they open to moving from traditional volunteer roles to more autonomous ones? How will your supervisory staff react to the change?
  2. Organizational Culture
    i.e. Are there mechanisms in place to facilitate volunteers receiving feedback, coaching and accountability? Does your organization have clear attainable standards set for both staff and volunteers?
  3. Physical Infrastructure
    i.e. Do you have the physical space to accommodate volunteer team meetings? What resources are you willing to invest into the volunteer teams to aid them?
  4. Flexibility
    i.e. What are your overall recruitment plans/strategies? Are the roles that you are seeking to fulfill flexible enough to allow for non-traditional time commitments from volunteers such as one-time events or variable working hours/days.
  5. Continuum of Roles
    i.e. Is there some level of pre-service training required by some of the volunteers? Is there a suitable management system in place with volunteers prepared to supervise other volunteers/programs/projects/areas/ etc.
  6. Management Style
    i.e. Does your management style encourage personal empowerment? How willing is your organization to allow volunteers a high degree of autonomy? is your organization willing to involve volunteer teams in decision-making and regard them more as partners than subordinates?
  7. Recognition and Incentives
    i.e. Will volunteers have some choice in how they are recognized? Will personal development opportunities be available to volunteers? Are you willing to recognize the efforts of volunteers in official company literature?
  8. Volunteer Management Capacity?
    i.e. Do you have staff currently willing to devote a sufficient amount of time to volunteer engagement? Are you willing to set clear communication channels to and from volunteer teams as well as offer both training and evaluation?

As mentioned above, one of the easiest ways to get a true constructive look into the readiness of your organization is to complete our Readiness Assessment Test. This tool will give you a ‘score’ regarding your readiness as well as offer advice and provide tools to assist you in increasing your readiness. In this way you need not wonder just how much water is in your well. We can help you determine just how wet it is before you leap.