Open Mind, Timely Response and Focus on Customers Equal Good Community Management

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CHICAGO — As a manager, do you view your organization as one big family? Your family/organization, or the people in your immediate chain of command, creates “content,” comments on others’ content and creates more content, which leads to “discussions.”
All managers need clear, concise communication to better understand the community they manage. If you are a manager who thinks he or she understands all facets involved, be careful—no one understands or “gets it” all the time. That is why you have others reporting to you.
Sometimes, these discussions are categorized and focus solely on one topic. It is usually best to hold discussions such as these with other people in the organization who can offer the manager their honest observations.
Eventually, the conversation can get so loud and happen so quickly that those taking part may need a little help in making sense of the noise. This is why a note-taker, or even an unbiased facilitator, is important to the process.
This is where the talents of a true manager come into play. These passionate, educated and dedicated professionals have a tough job in trying to make sense of the content mess while at the same time meeting the needs of community members as well as any customers that are served.
Good managers usually plan meetings far in advance, and have an agenda that was developed in part by the community. This requires patience and long-range planning. Routine management meetings should be planned a year in advance so all the players can take part. It’s like planning a baseball schedule.
The group or community should collectively select the location of such a meeting. And, by the way, make someone responsible for taking and publishing minutes of the gathering. This way, the folks in your organization who deal with day-to-day challenges can “observe” what management is doing.
With a slew of tools available at your fingertips, community management can sometimes become automated, stripping the team of, well, community. It becomes, in essence, a big Wikipedia page filled with opinions, links and clutter. Tools can help reduce the clutter, but to get community members excited and engaged, the human element can’t be ignored.
The people of the community drive the success of the community. It’s the community manager’s job to sense when it’s necessary to pump life into the conversation or to deviate in order to keep the wheels turning. Managers of said communities must keep an open mind and listen first.
Managers shouldn’t take for granted that their community will understand their motivation, either—especially if, for some reason, the community doesn’t like them or they have failed to earn the respect so importantly needed. The key here is absolute transparency and honesty, regardless of the situation.
At the end of the day, good community/business management comes down to being able to listen, react in a timely fashion, and provide top-notch customer and client services. You might ask what that really means. Well, think about the people you’re serving. When all is said and done, it’s all about them.
If you think you have a bunch of “Yes, we can” thinkers (always in agreement) around you, take a look at having a no-holds-barred management retreat, facilitated by someone from outside the community who can lead the team. You may not like some of the things you hear, but no one promised you a rose garden when you assumed your role.


Tip of the month: Don’t be so lazy and unprofessional that you have someone else place your phone calls for you. This practice shows great disrespect for the person being called. Should I hear, “Please hold for Mr. Jones,” my immediate reaction is that Mr. Jones must have had a terrible accident and is unable to dial the phone.


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