Once you have recruited and selected project leaders, it's time to build on their interests and skills by further orienting them to your national service program and leadership goals. These volunteers may already possess strong leadership and project management skills; however, it's important to always make available additional training to help project leaders develop these essential skills. Orientation and training for project leaders should be more intensive than for other volunteers.
Begin planning your orientation and training process by defining the desired outcomes. Ask yourself: What should project leaders know and be able to do after the orientation and training?
Use a variety of training methods (e.g., informal gatherings, one-on-one meetings, formal classes, web-based training, printed manuals) and tie the method to the outcomes you seek.
Training and orientation should be ongoing. Consider information the volunteers need to remember on an ongoing basis, and compile those things in a handbook that volunteers will keep.
Training volunteers and staff together offers an opportunity to build a strong team and ensure that the knowledge gained is consistent among staff and volunteers.
By combining three kinds of training, you can train your volunteers to think, act, and behave like leaders.
- Knowledge training attempts to transfer information, details, or data.
- Skill training aims at teaching or empowering potential leaders to be able to perform a task or exhibit a specific skill.
- Behavioral training influences one’s values or attitudes so as to evoke a response or change in mindset/behavior.
Training for project leaders should include these key components:
- History and mission of the national service program
- Ways volunteers impact the community
- Importance of the project leader role
- Project leader responsibilities
- Project development and management
- Volunteer management basics
- How to ensure safety during service events
- Methods and importance of maintaining confidentiality
- Reporting requirements (if any)
In addition, training should provide project leaders with the skills they need to build partnerships with community groups, plan and manage projects, and recruit and manage volunteers. Whatever the project leader's role, he or she should feel thoroughly prepared for success.