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Q&A - Firing A Volunteer
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"Can I fire a volunteer?"


Yes, you can fire a volunteer. You have both the right and the responsibility to ensure that your volunteers meet the needs and expectations of your organization.

In some circumstances, your responsibility to fire a volunteer is not in question.

Where a volunteer’s behaviour is clearly unacceptable because it is illegal, dangerously careless, causing intentional harm, or putting people or the organization at risk, the decision to terminate their involvement with your organization is straightforward.

The more difficult decision can be how to manage a volunteer when the behaviour creates problems, not risks. The desire to avoid conflict or hurt feelings can make this situation more challenging and therefore almost more stressful. When the performance or behaviour problem is not dealt with through timely corrective feedback, the problem persists and probably escalates.

Your organization does have a right to set expectations about how volunteers will perform the tasks that you’ve engaged them to do. This right is established at the beginning with a well-planned approach to volunteer engagement based on a position description and an agreement with the volunteer about performance expectations.

The relationship between the organization and the volunteer is founded on agreeing that the volunteer accepts the responsibilities of the role and is accountable for their performance. Policies and procedures support this understanding and serve as guidelines to set expectations and direct the steps of performance management.

A consistent protocol for volunteer performance feedback, correction, discipline and termination makes life easier for everyone. Being clear with volunteers about the consequences of poor performance, negative behaviour, ignoring policies, etc. is a significant part of responsible volunteer engagement. Addressing performance issues directly creates the opportunity to provide constructive suggestions that can improve the situation and increase the volunteer’s satisfaction in doing the job.

Good communication is critical to managing and/or modifying poor performance. Coaching to correct or improve performance will be most effective when based on a common understanding and agreement about what ‘good’ looks like.

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