When Staff are Willing, but Unable!

I believe one of the greatest things about working with Charitable organisations is the opportunity to work with people who are typically very passionate about the vision and objectives of the organisation that they work with i.e the cause.

There is, however, a challenge that comes with this when you find yourself working with that person that is ever so passionate, but far from competent for the role that they are in.  It’s even worse when that person is a volunteer – giving up their time to help for free just because they care.

How do you deal with such a situation – most especially when all everyone else may see is the lovely person that is so hardworking and caring?

Whilst I believe that people working with an organisation should be allowed some flexibility in what they do and how they do it, I believe it is also essential to have at least basic competency and role frameworks which outlines the competencies, skills and expectations required of staff in alignment with the organisation’s overall objectives.

Whilst you may not want to hurt or loose the person that is passionate about the cause if the individual is ineffective, it ultimately does neither the individual concerned or the cause (that they believe in) any good.

Having clearly defined roles and competency frameworks better enable staff to be clearer on what is expected of them and to contribute accordingly to the organisation’s vision and objectives, which are increasingly becoming more business and impact focused due to funding requirements.  They also provide key tools to help to manage staff that are ineffective in their role – enabling management to create an understanding of what must change; to define the training and development requirements or to ultimately move the person on from the organisation or to a more suitable role.


Susan Popoola is the Managing Director of Conning Towers Ltd, an HR firm focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation for the Third Sector.  She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain.

Copyright 2012. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source.

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