Coercive Power. Coercive power is based primarily on fear. Here, person A has power over person B because A can administer some form of punishment to B, such as firing him.
Reward Power. Reward power exists when person A controls rewards that person B wants. This may be salary, promotion, bonuses, etc.
Legitimate Power. Legitimate power exists when person B submits to person A because he feels A has a right to exert power in a certain domain. A supervisor has a right, for instance, to assign work.
Expert Power. Expert power is demonstrated when person A gains power because A has knowledge or expertise relevant to B. Expert power is based on expertise, but that alone cannot motivate a volunteer to work for an organization. To motivate the highest caliber of individuals to volunteer and stay with an organization, they must be motivated through referent power. They must respect and admire those for whom they work.
Referent Power. Also sometimes called charismatic power, referent power exists when person B is willing to do things for person A based on respect and admiration for A.
Clearly, coercive and reward power will not work with volunteers. While often doing the same job as paid staff, volunteers are not paid staff, and it is not constructive to think of them as such. Volunteers can leave the organization at any time without suffering adverse consequences and the reward they gain by staying is something they feel in themselves, not something that can be given by others.
While it might be argued that legitimate power could be used to motivate volunteers, this really relies on superior/subordinate relationship, which is not a strong basis for motivating someone who can choose any number of other organizations from which to volunteer. In order to recruit and retain the highest caliber volunteers, managers must use expert or referent power. The very nature of being a volunteer is that the individual must want to stay with the organization.
The topic of volunteers in government units such as the ACS (Auxiliary Communications Service) can raise management issues. The following, provided by Paul Carlin, CA OES Coastal Region ACS Officer, is important to both managers and participants.
Continues next weeks bulletin.
The Bulletins are addressed to the Emergency Management Agency (with sub-addresses to others) with the intent that the Radio Officer, ACS Coordinator or other unit participant will deliver them to the agency coordinator, and discuss their topics.