You have a problem. A volunteer is consistently performing below expectations.

Maybe he shows up late or makes it a habit to cancel at the last minute. Maybe, despite tutorials and advice, she just isn’t doing the job as well as it needs to be done. What should you do?

If possible, you want to avoid dismissing the person. Volunteers are difficult to find and firing them can result in hard feelings with the volunteer and amongst the congregation.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to improve your – and their – situation:

5 ways you can improve the performance of your volunteers


It’s possible that your volunteer is simply unaware that he's performing poorly. Sometimes people get in a rut or allow their performance to slip without realizing it. Tell the volunteer, in a kind way, what the problem is and why it’s important that it be corrected. Be direct. Avoiding the problem won’t help either of you improve the situation. Consider asking the volunteer for an explanation for what’s gone wrong. Sometimes that’s enough to snap someone into doing better.


Volunteers should know exactly what's expected of them and why. A clear standard is easier to meet. It’s also easier to have remedial conversations if both parties agree on exactly what is required of the them.


It’s possible that your volunteer simply never learned the right way to perform a task. Assess the volunteer’s skills and understanding of the job and see how she matches up to what’s required. If there is a shortfall, offer the additional training.


It could be that, for various reasons, a volunteer is not a good match for the task. Find something else for him to do – something that’s a better match for his skills – and find a more suitable replacement.


When the poor-performing volunteer does something right, recognize it. Let her know you appreciate the good work she does and you expect it to continue.

Following these five steps will hopefully leave you with a higher-performing volunteer and a stronger community. Good luck! 

Recommended Reading:

When you have great volunteers, you want to be sure to keep them close. For ideas on how to do just that, read these 5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Church Volunteers Happy.


Published by Jim Sweeney on May 25, 2016 in Church

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