Friday, April 5, 2013

The Pluto of the Galaxy

I am on my way home from my association's spring conference where I had the chance to catch up with a number of dedicated volunteers.  In the midst of checking in and offering words of appreciation I came across one hard working volunteer who was not her usual happy self.   As we had a cup of coffee and she caught me up, she said one of those phrases that paints such a perfect picture of emotion and relationships that it had to be shared.

For some time she had been spearheading the committee to create education through webinars for her members.  Though an officer of the local board, she felt like there was an 'inside clique' among some of the other leaders.  It wasn't that she wanted to be part of the 'clique' - but she felt like her input on strategy and direction was not considered equally - that in trying to contribute to the organization she loved, despite her hard work, her voice was not being heard.  In short:

"I feel like I am the Pluto of the galaxy."

Now whether she meant that she was the smallest planet, furthest from the sun and often forgotten, or that she was even no longer considered a planet (which still just seems wrong to me) - either way, it is a feeling of isolation and lack of importance.  Not every volunteer can be President - not every one should be - but every volunteer should feel valued.  Every volunteer should be a strategic partner.  Every volunteer should have a voice that is part of the conversation - after all, it is by their hands that the work gets done.

As for my volunteer above - I am sure that if another group came along that made her feel less like Pluto and more like the Sun that she would shift her own focus to where her input was valued.  It would be a loss to the board, the membership and the organization.  As we look at how we help advise our volunteer leadership, how we work on volunteer recognition, we have to remember that if we don't make our volunteers feel out of this world, someone else will.

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