Why I stay – a personal look at volunteering

As I went through member leader training yesterday, there was a common thread I kept hearing from the approximately 250 peers that also attended. Passion. People here are passionate about quality. That’s what makes ASQ unique, in that it’s a community of people who want to improve things, who want to make a difference somehow.

I was energized that there were so many young leaders who attended, and I also felt a huge responsibility because of that. As someone who’s been a member leader for almost six years, it’s part of my responsibility to ensure that these new leaders are nurtured. We must listen to them, mentor them, and keep them engaged. If none of this happens, there’s a good chance that they will become a statistic in who we did not retain.

So how do you engage someone? First, I think it’s important to understand why we as volunteers have stayed. What besides a shared passion for quality keeps us here? While every story is different, knowing your own personal story will help you connect and relate to the new kid on the block.

For me, it was the people. Having been a part of the Service Quality Division leadership team for almost six years, I have come to think of them as family. You pick on each other like brothers and sisters, but you also celebrate the good times and carry your friends through the tough times. Then there’s the many others who I’ve come to know through year after year at WCQI or some other ASQ event. People at all stages of their career who have helped me develop a network I appreciate immensely.

As a Chair, I know it’s an unspoken but necessary part of my job to make my team feel the same sense of belonging as I do. It’s my job to make them understand that their contributions are important, that I value their work and I understand that it takes time away from their loved ones and they “day jobs”.

Last night we had our annual thank you dinner with the Division’s leadership team and their guest as just one of the small ways we can show appreciation for the hard work these volunteers put forward. We had a couple of new faces at the dinner table and several familiar ones. As I sat back and heard the laughter, the stories, the brother and sisterly jabs – I let it all sink in. And I thought to myself — Yes, this is why I stay.

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