This episode is an important one, and one of our most intense to date. We covered so much in this episode that I strongly suggest you simply listen, but here's the tl;dr:
Jason Yee, PJ Hagerty, and Carina C. Zona join Jason and Mary to talk through some of the prevalent struggles in community management: what our roles actually entail (and how to communicate that to the rest of the company), how we define ourselves, how to protect our roles, what we need in order to survive the day in and day out of this job that we love, and if a company decides to let their community department go, how (and when) to do that.
Here are a few highlights:
Who are we?
- We are the listeners, the connectors, the avatars of the company we represent. We're the low-bullshit communicator -- the people who are known for being honest, as well as someone the community can be honest with, and as such, we're a reflection of the company to the rest of the world.
- We're the oracle that's supposed to make sense of the unknown and then transmit that information to the decision-makers... easy, right?
- We're specialists. Just like the engineers. Just like the sales people. We're specialists. Companies need to understand this, and allow us to do the things we specialize in instead of forcing us into situations where we do things that aren't our job poorly.
What do we do?
- There's so much "mysticism" in what we do that people get confused about what it is that we do and how we show our worth. It's essential for us to find ways to communicate what we're doing on a regular basis back to the company.
- Despite how it appears, we don't keep flipping hats around, choosing whichever one suits us that day... we keep adding more hats, which makes our results difficult to quantify.
How do we protect ourselves?
- Make sure our manager has our back. We need someone to fight our battles for us, even shield us to a certain extent, so that we can do our job. In the perfect world, the person above us is the umbrella that protects us from the things going on above us, not by keeping us from knowing what we need to know in order to do our job, but allowing us to focus on our day-to-day tasks while they take care of the higher-level conversations and the fight to keep our department afloat.
- The question companies need to start asking isn't "Can we continue to afford to pay these people?" but "Can we afford to lose the goodwill and amount of work that these folks are putting into our community?"
Check It Out:
[Evangelist Collective Slack Channel](evangelistcollective.github.io)
[Prompt](mhprompt.net) - looking for someone to speak about mental health in tech? we'll provide financial assistance to help you find a speaker.
Vicky Brassuer's 4-part series on opensource.com re: ROI and metrics around community management
Debugging Teams: Better Productivity Through Collaboration