Problem solving procedures

What will you do if serious problems occur?

Perhaps a complaint about a volunteer’s conduct? Or maybe a volunteer complaining about a member of staff? Whatever arises having a problem solving policy in place will make it easier to sort things out:

  • quickly
  • fairly
  • consistently
  • openly.

Avoid using the grievance and disciplinary procedures that you use for employees when dealing with volunteers. Volunteers are not covered by employment or equal opportunities legislation and your problem solving procedure should be written in a much less formal way than your staff policies.

Tailor made

Think about the possible problems that might arise. In general these will either fall under the heading of ‘complaint about a volunteer’ or ‘complaint by a volunteer’. It’s good to develop a procedure that deals with complaints constructively and openly. The procedure must suit your organisation and the roles that your volunteers carry out. It might be helpful to ask your volunteers to help design the procedure.

Your problem solving procedure might involve:

  • An initial verbal discussion at an informal meeting.
  • A more formal (written) decision made by a named (senior) person.
  • An opportunity to appeal against any decision made.
  • A final decision, perhaps by a management committee or trustee board.

General points to consider:

  • It’s important to treat complaints confidentially
  • Keep records of what happens and who is involved.
  • Everyone involved needs to be informed at every step of the procedure.
  • Be realistic about how much time you will need to respond to complaints.
  • Review your problem solving procedures regularly to make sure they work well.

Contact Volunteering Kirklees for advice and help with developing a problem solving procedure.