How do I get buy in for a separate online community team?

(Liz Crampton) #1

Hi everyone,

I imagine some of you might have some good advice for me! At the moment our 48k member community sits under a department which produces our information products. This doesn’t really make a huge amount of sense to me and I’ve voiced wanting to be our own community team but received a lot of resistance. I think it’s partly just legacy (‘the way things are’) and part apathy in terms of moving, from what I can tell.

I think being our own team will give us greater visibility within the organisation and greater recognition/responsibility… basically, be taken a bit more seriously. Is being a community team the answer, or are there other ways you’ve demonstrated your impact and got more internal investment?

And, has anyone successfully internally lobbied to get your own community team? If not, what did you try that didn’t work?!


(Sarah Hawk) #2

@zapleahy can likely offer insight here

(Richard Millington) #3

I’ll try to help from a purely persuasion perspective.

If people are apathetic or against any idea, facts aren’t usually going to persuade them. Facts tend to be the least persuasive route to changing attitudes. I imagine forming your team is loaded with so many associations and connotations. Are people losing resources or dignity by having a smaller team etc? Are you moving into or out of someone else’s turf? Is it more or less work for others?

Persuasion is pretty simple to break down. There’s the cognitive, behavioral and emotive component. It combines what people think about the idea, their experiences with the idea, and how they feel about the idea.

So I’d find some very emotive stories about why forming your team is important. Find out how people like them decided to let a team below them flourish. Talk about the talent in your team that are feeling suffocated. Identify some of the core emotions that you could build a good (short) story around.

Then look at the behavioral side. People don’t like the new and unknown, so how can you shrink that behavioral change initially? Instead of forming your own team, could you have a little more autonomy first? Could you begin acting like the team does exist and reporting your own metrics for the group’s success. Can you name the team? Make the initial behavior change as easy and as simple to perform as possible.

Then the cognitive side is finding new information that they can accept. So if they are against starting a new team, identifying information which makes forming a new team sound like something they would do. I.e. the tradition of not having messy organisation structures or whatever :slight_smile:

That’s probably a rough idea of the persuasion angle. Less about facts, more about emotions.

Aside, if you need more investment, then there might be a more direct route with the decision maker. But I’d begin building that relationship very early.

(Liz Crampton) #4

Thanks @richard_millington, really useful. Case study/short story is a good idea, I have lots of emotive stories we can use.

Would be great to hear from @zapleahy or anyone else with experience in this :slight_smile:

(Richard Millington) #5

Much of this really depends on your own relationship with whomever you need to persuade. Do they know you? Trust you etc?

(Liz Crampton) #6

Beyond my manager, not really! We are a pretty isolated team, which is one of the reasons I’d like us to be recognised more independently (by our function as an online community team) and integrated better into different departments. So, I don’t have much existing leverage with the people I’m trying to persuade.

(Richard Millington) #7

That’s a really interesting thought there. Is being more isolated from
everyone else the best option? Not saying it is or isn’t, just worth

I’d say that what you’re trying to achieve is a pretty hard sell,
especially without very strong existing relationships. No-one wants to lose
staff to another team forming and people are going to be quite dubious of
the benefits at this point. I remember at the UN, the idea of forming a
digital team was really strong but was practically impossible to implement
because of the competing fiefdoms.

Maybe it’s worth skipping ahead to the next step. What support do you think
you would get as an independent team which you don’t have already? Is it
more budget? Time? Permission? Is there something specific you’re looking

(Liz Crampton) #8

Good thought. It’s really about more budget and building a case for team expansion (particularly bringing developer roles in-house instead of outsourcing to agencies). But, maybe I can still do that within the current structure, as the director will be keen to look good from showcasing our current growth and engagement etc.


(Nick Emmett) #9

This is an example of where I try to get myself about a bit. I got the role I have where I am now by completely evangelising about Community, by putting myself into conversations and groups of people that I wasn’t invited to initially and by trying to be both a good example and some with some knowledge and information to back me up. It was quite an intense profile raising exercise I did for myself, but it worked and I"m now managing the Community here and leading the project to progress the platform and build the team.

TL;DR - Raise your profile, stick your nose in, evangelise to people how the community could help their part of the business, and indeed the whole business.

(Darren Gough) #10

Agree with this. Often by simply doing things to support other people/departments via community without them asking or expecting, you instantly start to build trust and understanding. After all, who doesn’t want free support and ways to make their job better.

I’m reminded of WII.FM - What’s in it for me?

(Liz Crampton) #11

Thanks @Darren_Gough and @Nick_Emmett - all useful thoughts. Better get evangelising!