Write a reflection around the 3 questions following the mini-lecture over Cyndi Thero’s four “people.”
Only Four “People” Ever Attend a Meeting
In the mid-1980’s, Cyndi Thero published a set of audiotapes on working with volunteers. The tapes are still available demonstrating the usefulness of her insights and advice. I find myself referring to her insights and comments on a regular basis. Throughout the years, her advice has guided my preparations for a meeting or an event.
Her first piece of advice is to “Treat your paid employees like volunteers and make your volunteers accountable like employees.” Many leaders make a false distinction between an employee and a volunteer. In the Information Age, when relationships are critical to an organization’s success, distinguishing lines between relationships with employees and volunteers are becoming much more blurred.
Leaders can tend to treat employees with a lack of consideration and the expectation that employees will endure because “they are paid and I am in charge.” This attitude can have a profound and negative impact on an organization’s climate. Leaders can also fail to provide clear directions and support for volunteers. Oftentimes, leaders will accept whatever a volunteer has to offer. Instead, the leader needs to be clear about the importance of matching a volunteer’s interest and organizational needs. Volunteers should also be held accountable for their commitments to the organization (Thero,1984).
Her second piece of advice concerns the art and science of relationship building. For this advice, she shares insights from Henry Kissinger, a master diplomat. He suggests that relationship building is a 3-step process:
• First meeting: introduce yourself;
• Second meeting: offer something;
• Third meeting: ask for something.
In the Information Age, the task of relationship building has moved to center stage. Dr. Kissinger’s observations suggest relationship building is time consuming and takes some time to bear fruit for the organization.
Her third piece of advice comes in the form of the content of a plaque in a friend’s office, “God so loved the work, He did not create the committee.” The organizational task of organizing a meeting or an event is time consuming. In some instances, the impression is created that such time could be better spent in other activities.
Her fourth piece of advice is most useful. After years of organizing meetings and events, she observed there are only “4” people who ever attend a meeting or participate in an event.
The first “person” wants to find out what needs to be done and to get started. This “person” can be called the Organizer. The best way to address the Organizer’s needs is to keep the meeting focused and to provide some type of follow-up activity.
The second “person” sits through the formal presentation but really wants to greet and meet everyone present and talk with each of them. This “person” can be called the Socializer. The best way to deal with this type of individual is to provide some refreshments and time to socialize.
The third “person” looks for free information and handouts to take home. This “person” can be called the Gatherer. The best way to address the Gather’s needs is to provide handouts. The best handouts are an agenda for the meeting or event and minutes from the last meeting.
The fourth “person” looks for ways to improve the meeting or event. This “person” can be called the Critic. The best way to address the needs of a Critic is to provide evaluation forms for an event or to ask this “person” to organize and facilitate a meeting.
In the Information Age, these insights can help us to make better use of the time needed to plan meetings and events and to follow-up on these activities. I have found there is a little bit of each of these “persons” in me but I tend to drift towards one of them on a regular basis. I have also found these “four” individuals really do attend most meetings or events. The best strategy in planning a meeting or hosting an event is to plan for these four “individuals” to be in attendance.
1. Which “person” matches your attitude towards attending a meeting or event?
2. Have you experienced Cyndi Thero’s insight concerning these “four” people in your work with groups?
3. How useful are the pieces of advice Thero offers for working with volunteers?
Refer to the articles in Module 2: Lecture Materials & Resources to assist in completing this assignment.
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