On Harvesting

We coordinators are awesome.

We know a ton of people: clients, volunteers, teachers, coworkers, other program staff, support staff, community partners, and the list continues.

We’re also never bored.  Ever.

Odds are good that:

  • you know one of us.
  • at some point you’ll want one of us to do something for you.
  • we will not be just idling around hoping you’ll give us a task to accomplish.

We love to help.  But before you ask, consider: are you working with us, or are you harvesting?  Working with us will lead to healthy, happy, long-term working relationships.  Harvesting our output will not.

Loaded Basket by meganpru on Flickr
Loaded Basket by meganpru on Flickr

Characteristics of harvesting:

  1. short turn-around time
  2. little done (by you) lately to add value to the programs we coordinate
  3. the only two types of conversations we really have are “Hi, how are you?” and “Can you do this for me?”
  4. It often has a sense of just passing through, or of quickly collecting something.

Maputo Handshake by ElektraCute on Flickr
Maputo Handshake by ElektraCute on Flickr

Characteristics of working with us:

  1. lead time
  2. help us out, especially if we ask  (but nobody’s keeping exact score)
  3. tell us about your bigger picture… and ask us about ours
  4. It usually has a sense of mutual respect and feels like a human interaction.

Now, let’s practice:

Based on the above descriptions, evaluate the following paraphrased emails.  Are they working with the coordinator, or are they harvesting?

A) Hi.  I volunteered with you six months ago.  Things sure have been crazy.  Could you write me a recommendation?  I need it tomorrow.  Thanks.

B) Great to see you the other day!  I’m glad you that blog post about the neuroscience of learning answered your question.  Say, I’m starting to put together a presentation.  If you have any student writing I could use for examples, could you send it over sometime in the next couple of months?  Thanks.

When in doubt, it all comes down to time-frame.

A short time-frame leaves very little room to maneuver.  Without flexibility, it’s much more difficult to maintain a high quality of work for your task and the others I already have.  Set us both up for success and give some lead time.

What would you add?

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