You may have already heard of the 70:20:10 Model. Originally created by Lombardo, and Eichinger at the Center for Creative Leadership, this 1980s leadership development theory suggests that individuals get 70% of their knowledge from challenging assignments (experience), 20% from developmental relationships, and 10% from formal training/education.
If this is true, 90% of our volunteer’s education is informal. Their knowledge of your organization, how to perform their tasks, and how to develop as leaders is mostly learned through observation and in-the-moment performances. They are learning as they go, taking both the good and bad experiences and turning those into informative memories to use in the future.
It makes you think…are we intentionally developing our volunteers during the hustle of services? If most of their knowledge is coming from job-related experiences, are we doing our best to make those experiences hand-tailored lessons that drive home the culture of our organization?
Since people are learning “on the floor” we have the incredible opportunity to train volunteers in an informal setting. One of the best ways to do this is through a mentoring program. The term mentoring program probably implies more formality than it should.
Basically, we want to pair a more experienced volunteer with a new one. The newbie will get the chance to connect with and learn from their experienced counterpart, and the more seasoned volunteer will have an opportunity to stretch as a leader and pass on specific lessons that the organization wants to press on their team.
This covers the 70% learned from experience and 20% learned from interactions with others. We can’t ignore that 10% of formal training though. Don’t underestimate the power of a volunteer orientation class. The formal class setting at the beginning of a volunteer’s journey sets the tone for the rest of their time with the organization and it’s the perfect opportunity to really drive home your organizational culture, verbiage, history, values, and “the way you do things.” Being intentional in the development of your volunteers will pay off big-time when you realize you have a volunteer staff who are firmly focused on your vision and continually growing into better leaders.
 Lombardo, M.M. & Eichinger, R.W. (1996). The Career Architect Development Planner. Minneapolis: Lominger.
Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel