10 July 2010

Perfectionism vs. Professionalism

I was recently talking to one of my co-VISTAs about what it is like to supervise our Summer Associate volunteers.  Our Summer Associates are 10-week volunteers who signed up for our program and get a small stipend and education award when they complete 375 hours of service.  We supervise them and put them to work with the various projects that are involved in our program.  

As we were talking about this she mentioned that she found it very difficult to delegate work to a Summer Associate because she was a perfectionist and therefore felt as if she would just re-do their work once they brought it back to her.  I found this point very interesting because I too, have difficulties delegating work not only because I want everything to be perfect but because I never want to make a Summer Associate feel that I am MAKING them do something that I would not do myself.  

For example, I often bring the Summer Associates to Sugartree Ministries to do random work that gets forgotten about in the day-to-day shuffle from church group to church group.  They do basic things like clean, sort canned goods, divide large food quantities into ones that are small enough to distribute, etc.  However, when it comes time to delegate and I say, "Joe, go clean the bathrooms" a part of me feels guilty for asking them to do an unpleasant job while I go work on something that I can't delegate but is a much less unpleasant task like meeting with the Fundraising Coordinator to put together a day-of timeline for the Golf Tournament that is happening next week.  

It is interesting to walk this line where I am supervising peers full-time for the first time.  I want things to be perfect so I can't delegate certain things to certain people however; where is the line of professionalism where you're no longer treating people equally.  For example, a great idea while supervising is to play to the strengths of those you are supervising but in this situation that could lead to giving some students all computer type work and others all hands-on "dirty" work which would be unfair and of course wholly unprofessional.  So where is the balance between the two?  Any advice/thoughts?

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