Ideas needed for unifying a team of CMs


(Nikoletta Harrold) #1

Continuing the discussion from [5 September] What are you working on this week?:

[I have to] come up with a strategy for a company that has about a 100 people playing CM’s but they are only dedicating 10-50% of their time to managing a Community of Practice.

They have created a certification program to get these CM’s more aligned with the business goals and be more efficient but it failed.

I have been asked to come up with a strategy to unify the CM team, make the certification program a success and create proof of value to senior management on the community approach overall for their business projects.

I would love some ideas on how you get people in your company to participate in courses/ exams if at all, or if you have several CM’s how do you keep them marching along to the same tune and business goals?


(Sarah Hawk) #2

Are these people doing other jobs within the organisation, and community is an extra responsibility?

Do you have some sense of what is causing the lack of unity? Is it a cultural issue within the organisation? Legacy management? A lack of clear focus on goals?

Calling in some people that I know have managed teams for insight @Jennifer_Zowada @catykobe @Jeffrey_Otterspoor @Yannis_P_Triantafyll @colleenyoung @zapleahy @Janet_Swisher


(Nick Emmett) #3

Hi @Nikoletta_Harrold, and welcome to the community here, it’s great to hear from you.

Is this a case of where the CMs don’t feel unified, or perhaps don’t work well together, or is it a case of you being tasked with creating a songbook for everyone to sing from?

It is difficult when being the CM isn’t part of the persons main job role, but I’m also of the opinion that even then, you need to make sure you have the right people on board. Having someone who also has their main day job but then doesn’t really get or do community very well, is probably not a great start. If some one gets community, they’ll be pretty willing to be on board and help make it a success, alongside their other role. When I took over the community where I work I was keen to put in place a small group of “ambassadors” internally, to help manage and kickstart the community and some of the groups within it - these were predominantly people that I’d seen be active already in there before I came. Those groups were the ones that began to thrive. The ones that were managed by someone who didn’t really get Community were the ones that suffered.

Having regular catch ups with this group of people enabled us to make sure we were on the same page but also to get ideas and suggestions for improvements or posts or engagement provocation!


(Sarah Hawk) #4

Although I suspect that there is a deeper issue, given that the assignment is to make the certification program a success, does anyone have experience internally motivating a team to upskill?


(Nikoletta Harrold) #5

You are spot on @Nick_Emmett, it is a mix of all of the above, people not feeling unified but more importantly everyone is marching to a different beat of the drum. I like your song book expression, I would most certainly have to build one of those and align the lyrics to the business goals.

I agree, my proposal would be to cut the focus for people who spend less than 50% of their time on CM’s (even if only initially) and level up and unify the ones most invested and involved. And yes, even cut some that are not doing their fair share. Knowledge can be replaced, attitude can not.

For the regular catch ups, I am proposing a Community for CM’s and Workout Loud projects along with a regular interlock meeting that rolls up into company wide visibility and highlights on their achievement.

Is that what you were thinking about too?


(zapleahy) #6

@Nikoletta_Harrold It sounds like you have an eclectic group of individuals with other types of responsibilities to the business. Some may be analytical, others may find inspiration in human stories, and others still might be driven by design or user experience.

One of my main challenges early on was that the individuals I was bringing together to work on the new community initiative at Fitbit didn’t have any professional community management experience and had little experience with moderation or online community in general. They knew the project was exciting and they wanted to contribute, but if each person was asked individually about what community meant to Fitbit as a business or what the purpose of the community was for our customers, they probably wouldn’t have been able to give a solid, well-rounded answer. On top of that, they probably wouldn’t have been able to describe how their participation was moving us closer to our goal of creating a positive space where users could share their personal health and fitness goals, receive motivation, and get any product questions answered.

Something that worked well to bridge this gap was culling together a large body of research, case studies, and examples of how other business are approaching community. Majority of these studies didn’t directly have anything to do with our company or goals, which generated more enthusiasm for the “work” of reading and interpreting the research, allowed individuals to find the type of material that they were most interested in, and helped to create a common foundation of knowledge on what’s happening in the business of community today. This, in combination with encouraging the team to identify challenges, roadblocks, and pursue potential solutions or improvements as a result of that reading has proven to help create a fertile ground for community engagement and management from individuals across all levels of experience and commitment. It has also given the team a deeper sense of understanding and commitment to what they do, and a shared vocabulary for describing their roles.

On another note, if your community has history, and it sounds like it might, the best motivation might be documenting and sharing that history. Show the group what it took to get where you are and how they’re writing the next page together. Take the time to individually recognize contributions and highlight meaningful participation or ideas. As new CMs joined or left, great community content and insights gathered, and other milestones. This will help to show the team that while day-to-day may feel slow, month-to-month big things are happening.

There are a few ways to prove community is “working” to senior management, but you can bet they’ll want to see a combination of data and stories. Best to start again with the story of the community, and then dive deeper into the company CMs contributions. You can also use this time to argue for restructuring or dedicated CM participation if the challenges to unifying a 100+ PT CM team are too great.

To gather data on the shared learning piece for your CM team, you can use shortlinks (like bit.ly) to track clickthroughs to the new research library. Engaging your CM community in discussion around some of those shared articles will help to illustrate the engagement and ideation that comes out of the social learning experience. And, metrics like time on site, first responses, etc., can also help to show how engaged your CM community is over time.

As for the impact the CMs are having on the community, the easiest way to understand that would be through a survey to your community members–ask how you’re doing as a team and what they’d like to see more/less of, how satisfied they are with their experience, etc. You can use those insights to challenge your CMs to solve for the problems. This will bring them together to problem solve and improve the user experience.

Any engagement data you can feed back to your CMs may help to re-engage them as well. People love to see how they’re performing, how they stack up to others, and to track their own contributions over time.

Rambling on, but if there’s a nugget in here you want to expand on, happy to do so.


(Nikoletta Harrold) #7

this is really great stuff @zapleahy and you mentioned time on site, which I totally forgot to include in my proposal as a metric. I also love the ask your community on how their CM’s are doing and what they would want them to do more/less of. I like it.
I believe there are too many cooks in the kitchen and most of them don’t even want to be there. So I think that’s the main underlying issue that needs to be fixed. After that we can focus on unifying and elevating the ones that want to and are willing to learn and impact our roadmap.

thanks for the inspiration


(Nikoletta Harrold) #8

Hi guys, just a quick update on where I landed with this. I actually created a strategy deck for the company that was struggling with this experience and the main slide that speaks to the disarray of their CM’s is attached below.

I am basically proposing to have a community architect who can clean up the CM house and remove CM title and authority from people who are only 10% involved. This would lead to a certified but smaller group of people who are actually knowledgable and responsible for community success. A CMGR SWAT team.