The State of California started the idea of the ACS to get volunteers from many professions to come together and work as unpaid employees of the state, and has actively promoted this idea to other agencies that closely work with the state.
This is probably the greatest step towards utilizing volunteer talent that any government agency has ever tried. The result has been recruitment of people that may run the gamut from company CEO, to highly trained project managers from the computer industry, to amateur radio operators and technicians, to a retired police chief. This effort has dramatically broadened the skills and expertise available to ACS.
The average person we now recruit is a self-starter, confident, well educated, and highly motivated. Regardless of the civilian job they bring to ACS, the common factor found in these individuals is the desire to see their unique skills and expertise used and appreciated as an asset to a served agency.
We in the leadership roles in ACS need to make sure each individual in the unit is heard and has a voice in the direction of their unit. We must, in our day-to-day activities, give everyone the ability to have input and contribute to the decision-making process. This applies less during actual deployments or activations, when property and lives are threatened and there is a need for a more direct leadership role.
There are, however, consequences to this direct leadership role. If decisions are made and the ranks disagree, they must have the opportunity to provide input to the After-Action report and active participation in the incident debriefing. This is where that leadership is taken to task, if needed.
A volunteer is a unique creature, with different needs than paid staff. The volunteer's paycheck is what he or she gets back from the organization in the form of pride in his contribution to public service. It is really the only thing we have to offer them. By maximizing this, we maximize their desire to work for us. Staff meetings should be open to all, allowing the volunteers to be an integral part of the group--allowing them to speak their mind, to disagree. They will know their opinion counts with the leaders within the organization, and in this way they provide valuable contributions to planning at all levels