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Have you said thanks?

Show Profile  Rolf Posted: 18 February 2012, 9:29 PM  
Something I have been meaning to write for a while...

I was controller for a major event not so long ago and I was genuinely surprised at how few competitors made the effort to come and thank me on the day. I struggle to remember more than 10 out of 550 competitors did so.
After 6 months therapy, I have now accepted this and can talk about it without crying... but seriously I wasn't bothered because I enjoy course setting regardless and I suppose it is possible the courses sucked
It did get me thinking that if this is the norm, then it is a piss poor effort from our community and certainly does not do a good job of encouraging new or novice setters for what is a massive amount of volunteered work.

Personally, I think it is only good manners to try and find the setter and controller after an event and thank them in person. Of course, sometimes you can't find them or you don't have time, but if everybody did this as often as possible, then I believe this would be hugely rewarding and encouraging for our settings/controllers.

My rules of thanks!
1) Make a real effort to find and thank the setter and controller.
2) Never, ever give any criticism or suggestions for improvement. It is too late to fix it, so you may just annoy them. The only exception to this is if you know the person bloody well or the solicit you for suggestions.
3) Try and tell them something specific you liked. They have probably spent hours agonizing over every leg, so if you liked a route choice leg, then tell them so.
4) Don't comment negatively on the terrain/steepness/undergrowth. The course setter/controller can't control that and is forced to work with the map allocated.

If you do a really good job of thanking and praising them, they may just be willing to set again, and that will mean that you don't have to do it.


Show Profile  pete s Posted: 20 February 2012, 11:58 AM  
Hi Rolf - I think you touch on a really important topic; that of how you value the volunteers that make our sport happen. As a principle, I think all volunteers deserve to be thanked - doesnt matter of they are controllers, setters, coordinators or other hands on help. I think clubs have a role to ensure volunteers are "officially" thanked (ironically would be done by people who are volunteers themselves!!), and some clubs I think are great at this.

Personally, I dont volunteer my time expecting a thankyou, so when I do get one its icing on the cake and I really appreciate it. If I did go into it expecting a thankyou then I suspect I would end up on a roller coaster of negative emotion...at the end of the day you cant control what others do, but only your response to them... :-)

I also think recognition and feedback are two seperate things. In terms of feedback, personally I love critique of any event I set, and believe this is a valuable part of learning and making me better at it next time. I'd be concerned if people held back on their views and opinions cause nothing would really improve if we didnt encourage that. It just has toi be done constructively, and there are some people who are great at this and some who aren't!!! :-)

So whilst I agree with the principle of recognition and thanking people, I dont agree with the way you suggest - especially ommitting the feedback stuff. I definitely agree that good prasie, balanced with constructive feedback, is a GREAT way of encouraging volunteers back...

It would be great to see this debated within clubs and at committee meetings too - again, there are some clubs doing great stuff in this space, and maybe others that could learn how to do this better..

Thanks for raising this! Great topic! :-)

Show Profile  Jamie Posted: 22 February 2012, 1:54 PM  
Yeah, good thread Rolf, and I agree with everything you say.

As Pete points out some people are good at feedback, others aren't, but you can guarantee if someone is giving unsolicited feedback at an event they fit in the latter category. People don't become orienteers without thinking that their way is mostly better and that they are normally right (ok I sterotype but you know what I mean....and yes my way is best).

"Constructive criticism" would be best focused through a designated third party, be it club captain or whatever.


Show Profile  leepback Posted: 23 February 2012, 12:56 PM  
I generally try and at least thank somebody involved at all events.

Maybe it is only the guys at the finish desk as they are the most immediatley at hand and usually even if I utterly hated the course or area. If I know who has done most of the hard yards I'll generally thank them personally if I see them. I especially thank them at our local events (Newcastle NSW)as often it has been me that has asked them to volunteer their time. At a multi-day I would generally thank somebody that has been heavily involved before departing on my journey home.

I'm sure I have generally thanked somebody at the Kiwi events we have attended and hope to again on our next trip over whenever that maybe (mapgirl is currently 37 weeks pregnant so that might be a while off for us...and yes we are very late into the parenthood thing)

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 23 February 2012, 9:01 PM  
Well done guys (on the parenthood thing). I'm sure you have been building up your street score events just to make it easier for the three of you and the buggy...


Show Profile  leepback Posted: 26 February 2012, 9:43 PM  
Thanks Michael,

Already have a three wheeler pram ready to go.
We hope to introduce it to the NZ countryside not long after it has seen some Aussie bush. Always had a great time over your way....and thanked setters etc (just to get back on thread)


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