Saturday, May 26, 2012

Face to Face Orientation

Orientation- (An orientation, as to guide one in adjusting to new surroundings, employment,activity or the like) 

While I love technology and am on Twitter, Facebook and of course Blogs nothing can replace a face to face interaction. Seeing each others physical outline, the timbre of their voice, the inflections when they speak showing humor or distaste, the look in their eye as they make a point. 
Orientation of new volunteers in my opinion is too important to be left to a video (or old school - sitting at a desk reading a orientation manual) that they may or may not watch. It is not only orientation to the volunteer organization, but an orientation of you for them and them for you. During the orientation for my unit I introduce myself to each person as they come in for the evening. Once we start I outline the evening on a slide then the next slide simply says: In 5 minutes or less tell us: 
  • Your name 
  • why you are here 
  • whether you are a medical or support volunteer 
  • What city you live in (my MRC covers 2,000 sq miles with 39 cities) 
And of course I lead by example and answer the questions and for the second question I tell them "Its my job and the best part of my job". As each person finishes their introduction i say "thank you" or "welcome" and look at the next person.  This is one of the most important parts of the evening because it makes connections!
Then I spend the next hour and a half covering how we as an organization got here what their place in the organization is. What we expect from them and what they can expect from us (actually I ask these questions out loud to get their reactions and weave them into the answers.) I talk about what we have done; what we hope to do with their help. And always preparedness! Then for the third time that night I tell them what they must do to complete processing (online FEMA Training). 
Lastly, I thank them and send them on their way.
 Seems like a lot of work after an already long day, but its worth it. Why? By time the evening is over, I have a room of 10-15 people that I know, who know me and because they are in the room with me and not on the other side of a glass screen they know I love my job and what WE are building together. 
But one more thing they can't get at home...They are now connected (even just a little bit) with 10-15 people who think like they do and feel part of something bigger than themselves. Thoughts?


Carol Ryan said...

Thanks for this reminder of the importance of personal, face to face contact with volunteers. I'd be interested in if/how Red Cross and other orgs put metrics around building a sense community among volunteers. Maybe fast feedback forms at the end of orientation (how valuable was this to you) as well as tracking retention could be some possible measures.

@disaster_dave said...

Thanks Carol
My local Red Cross does indeed conduct a feedback on all classes taught; it asks about the content, instructor and the environment taught in. I have of course adapted this form for my MRC. I also conduct a once per year survey to ask "how am I doing" this feedback gives me info to plan the next years training