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Dealing with Employees/Managing Volunteers


Hi Ed,

We are a new non-profit organization called A Kind Voice.  We operate a call-in line to help people feeling a bit alone to connect with volunteers to have phone conversations.  We are staffed by 25 volunteers.  If you’d like to know more about us, please go to:

I’d like to get your thoughts on a procedure to efficiently manage volunteers who work remotely from their homes.  The volunteers are scheduled for specific times and get calls routed to them during those times.  They have a regular weekly schedule.  So the objective of the procedure is to help assure volunteers are available to take calls during the shift they signed up for.

Some of the volunteers work one 2 hr shift per week, others are home alone all the time and are available from 9AM to 10PM.  So we may need a different procedures for different types of volunteers.

Some possibilities include:
- An online sign in system
- Asking them to send an email
- Asking them to call in

I appreciate your help.



Thank you for your question.  Congratulations on getting your non-profit off to a great start.  It's a cool thing to help people in need and even cooler to find many other to help out as volunteers.

Regarding your Notification of Availability for work procedure, I like your ideas.  Given that you have volunteers working different schedules or shifts during the week, I suggest a 2-step procedure.  First, I would ask everyone who is ready to START taking calls, to CALL IN to your central operator to let them know exactly when to route calls to them.  This solves a couple of issues: 1)It notifies the management team that a volunteer is ready to work.  2)It confirms the volunteer's phone system,computer system (if required#, or other systems are functioning properly so that the volunteer can get his/her job done effectively and in accordance with your organizational standards.  Also, what this approach does is allow management to assess whether a volunteer is in the right frame of mind to be truly helpful that day.  Perhaps they've got a cold, or a they've got a conflicted schedule, or a family challenge has come up.  Whatever performance impediment many exist with a particular volunteer,your manager will be able to assess via the phone call whether or not the volunteer can truly be helpful that day.  

The next step is the SIGN-Off procedure. For sign-off it seems all you need to know is that your volunteer is no longer available to take calls.  For this notification, I think a simple e-mail or a text message via their computer should work fine.  E-mail probably is most effective because it leaves a paper trail and documents the specific time and allows sufficient text space for elaborate explanations that may be necessary from time to time.  Also, it's inexpensive to implement.

David, I hope this response helped you.  Please feel free to write me again for clarifications of the above.  Also, please visit my website # to learn more or, better yet, buy my book "Natural Born Manager" there.  You can also download my FREE managerial tools, including my extremely popular “Manager-Supervisor Rating Tool,” from my Linkedin BOX folder on my Profile at (  Finally, in my book, you'll find many helpful ideas similar to those presented here, ideas that will empower you to resolve your most difficult career and work related challenges.  The best of luck to you!



Dealing with Employees

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Ed Parr


How to organize employees, how to stop infighting, how to handle problem employees, and more. I have 25+ yrs. of managing within a variety of industries and labor environments. I have managed from 50 to 1,000 staff on projects with P&L responsibility ranging from $100K to $30MIL. I currently serve as a management consultant to business and government. I enjoy helping people, especially supervisors and managers, evolve in their careers.


Over 15 years of senior management experience including: systems development, technical help desks, customer service, back-office operations, branch administration and regulatory compliance. Responsibilities have been as large as 1,000 professionals delivering projects with P&L as high as $30 million and assets totaling more than $10 billion. Customer interaction has ranged from customer service reps to CEOs. Greatest accomplishment: Helping employees be all they can be.

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Purchase my book "NATURAL BORN MANAGER" at (get a 10% discount via the Pay-It-Forward link).

A graduate With Distinction of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Ed is a 35-year veteran of organizational leadership. He is a Certified Management Accountant (C.M.A) who has worked in management positions ranging from team leader to senior executive. He has managed as many as 1,000 employees deployed in multi-site facilities and consulted with or managed for both large and small organizations including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, E.D.S., PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Sprint Corporation. In addition, Ed is an 10-year contributor to as a pro bono management expert, advising managers, supervisors, and employees around the globe providing them practical solutions to their everyday workplace challenges. Finally, Ed is an avowed Accountability Manager who strives to learn and educate others about the fundamental truths of management.

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