Jan 7, 2019

How Doing Things With Excellence Affects Volunteers

Being committed to excellence speaks volumes to families.  It lets them know they are worth your very best effort.

When you do things with excellence, there is another group of people that it influences.

Your VOLUNTEER TEAM.  

Let's look at an example of how excellence makes a difference in how your volunteer team perceives the ministry.

The example comes from the Prince Charming Regal Carousel in Disney's Magic Kingdom. Here's a little background on the carousel. 

It was built in 1917 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.  It was a company that manufactured amusement park rides like wooden roller coasters, toboggans and carousels.  It was bought and sold by two companies - the Detroit Palace Garden Park and  and Olympic Park in New Jersey. 

In 1967, Disney purchased it and did extensive renovations before making it Cinderella's Golden Carousel in 1971.  After the installation, Roy Disney, who was committed to excellence just like his brother Walt, noticed that the carousel was slightly off-centered from the Cinderella Castle breezeway and needed to be realigned.  He had it moved 8 inches so it would be exactly in line with the castle.  8 inches?  Does that really make a difference?  If you are committed to excellence, 8 inches off is the same as 8 feet off.  Excellence cares about the small inches just as much as the big items.  And the truth is, the big things are all of the small things combined together.

The carousel has 18 paintings incorporated into it.  These paintings depict the memorable scenes in the Cinderella story.  Another example of big attention to detail.  These paintings make a big statement to the kids and families that attend. 

But there is one other attention to detail that not everyone is aware of.  The Disney Imagineers wanted to make a statement about the importance of doing things with excellence.  The detail would not be announced to the general public.  But every team member knows about it.  Here's what it is.

The Imagineers wanted the carousel to stand apart from all the rest of the carousels in the world.  So here's what they did.  They used real, 23 carat gold paint on the carousel horses.  The horses also have silver and bronze on them.

Disney is committed to keeping the carousel looking excellent. So after the park closes, hours are put into cleaning the horses and buffering the brass poles.  They also regularly swap out the horses to repair them and keep them looking pristine.  Spare horses are always being maintained behind the scenes and are regularly refinished and repainted. 

Even though your average family who rides the carousel isn't aware that the gold on the horses is real, there is someone who does know this.  Guess who?  All of the employees (cast members).  What does this accomplish?  It makes a major statement that says "we are committed to excellence.  We will go the second mile in the smallest of details so they are done with excellence.

This is a great example of the impact doing things with excellence can have...starting with your team of volunteers. 

When you do things with excellence, it gives volunteers a sense of pride in the ministry.  They are proud to bring their visiting guests and friends to their church.  Notice I said to "their" church.  Volunteers want to be on a team that is committed to excellence.  When they do find a ministry that is committed to excellence, it becomes "their" ministry.  They move from being "renters" of the ministry to being "owners" of the ministry.

When you do things with excellence, you earn trust with your volunteers.  When you follow through with a commitment you made to them, you earn the trust of your volunteers.  Promises kept on time earns trust.  Producing solid ministry programming earns the trust of your volunteers. 

When you do things with excellence,  volunteers are motivated to give their best. Excellence is contagious.  When you set the bar at a new level and challenge them to meet it, volunteers who are committed to excellence will respond.

When you do things with excellence, your volunteers take note on what was done behind-the-scenes to make it excellent.  Excellence is found in the small details done well.  The little things add up and gain you a reputation of being committed to excellence.

When you do things with excellence, volunteers invite their friends to join them.  Volunteers become proud of the ministry and bring new volunteers to experience it with them.

How do you raise the bar of excellence? 

  • pay fantastic attention to the little details
  • don't be satisfied with just getting by
  • make a list of things that are currently mediocre - either improve them or drop them
  • remember that you can do a lot of things with mediocrity or you can do a few things with excellence / you may need to quit some things and refocus that energy to something that has more potential
Today, there will be kids and families riding the carousel at Disney.  And most will not realize that they are riding horses that are painted with gold paint.  But the team members will know.  And they will smile and take pride in what they are doing.

You can get more great ideas on building and leading a volunteer team in my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams" at this link.

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