This should get most of your attention.
Self care is a pretty common topic among us community managers. And, one I’m going to talk about but probably not how you would expect.
Don’t get me wrong, self care is important. Anytime you are in a role where you deal with lots of people, the risk of burnout is elevated. Community professionals are no different than social workers and nurses in that regard.
The problem is often times we lull ourselves into a false sense of security by over-emphasizing “self care best practices" and “how to prevent burnout.”
Yes, self care can prevent burnout. But, burnout is only an issue when you are over-working or over-stressed for too long of a period of time. We tend to think burnout is just an indicator that you have too many things going on and have taken on too many projects and tasks. What we fail to realize is it is more of an indicator that you struggle with prioritization and delegation.
When every task is new and urgent, urgent loses its meaning. Not to mention, things fall through the cracks, projects go unfinished, mistakes happens, etc.
The thing that seems the most urgent at the time is almost always NOT the most important task. For example, responding to a negative email or comment from a customer is an urgent task. An important task is creating a crisis communication system and training others in your organization for how to respond to negative comments in all forms. Therefore, you don’t always have to drop everything else and fight fires day in and day out.
It is really hard to engage in strategic planning and deep work, if you are constantly putting out one fire after another.
Fighting fires and too many “urgent tasks” competing for your attention is only half of the problem.
The real root of the problem is some community manager roles inherently can be a little generic or undefined. While it is better than it used to be even 3 years ago, not every company understands how to fully utilize a community manager.
This leads community managers to go out of their way to find anyway they can to show their value in their respected organizations. This often means being the one to work on projects across multiple departments and usually volunteering to lead projects that no one else wants.
That inherently can be a great thing. That’s how you become indispensable to an organization.
When left unchecked, it can also be a major weakness. If you take on too many projects at once, you subject yourself to missing deadlines, overworking, subpar results and of course burnout (if it goes on too long).
Not to mention, if you are constantly being asked to show your value, prepare powerpoints or spreadsheets for what you do every day and take on more and more projects, it is a recipe for lack of confidence and insecurity in your role.
That’s a deadly combination to be in. You are taking on more and more work. But, the results aren’t as good as they can be.
I’ll share more about the solution for how to combat this in part 2. (i.e upcoming post).