Team structures

(Liz Crampton) #1

Hey everyone,

We are in the process of merging with another community and as a result can recruit a couple more positions - whoop. There will be 4 positions in the community team (2 of which are already filled) so there’s quite a lot of flexibility to shuffle about responsibilities.

Does anyone know any good resources/blogs around setting up a team or how to divide specialities? I recall from the Feverbee training I did a while back that beyond the community manager, next hires might be community coordinator (admin, events, activities) then maybe Comm Strategist (strategy, biz integration, team leader) or maybe a UX specialist. Maybe a reactive moderator (abuse reports, admin, member tasks, moderating) etc.

Can anyone share more about their team set up if you’ve got 3+ community staff? I’m particularly interested in how you distribute tasks relating to content as that’s likely to be a big focus for us.

Would love your thoughts!

[12 September] What are you working on this week?
(Sarah Hawk) #2

Great position to be in!

In a past life when I managed a team it was set up in the structure below.
Note, the team sat at around 50, only the top two were paid roles, the rest were volunteers.

CM: strategy, reporting, content
Admin: technical admin, strategy implimentation
Team leaders: managed teams of moderators, HR/admin responsibilities, events/activities
Advisors: moderators
Mentors: subject experts, engagement specialists

If I had the opportunity to recruit now, I’d take on someone responsible for engagement and personal reach-out, and someone to do the admin/stats/reporting stuff.

(Liz Crampton) #3

Thanks @HAWK, that’s really interesting. Big volunteer base!! That’s not really something we’ve experimented with yet but am keen to look into.

Did anyone manage user experience (or is that tech admin?) or growth in that set up?

(Sarah Hawk) #4

I was UX, but that was because I happened to have that skill-set, not because they specifically looked for it. That was back in the fairly early/immature days of community. @richard_millington employed me specifically for those skills (in tandem with community experience, obviously).

Growth, no – but again that was before people really understood what it takes to build a thriving community. They had struck it lucky with the concept and the timing, so the community had healthy growth with little intervention.

I’d prioritise growth now I think, if I were looking for a new hire.

I’d love to hear from others who manage teams. @colleenyoung – do you have thoughts?

(Richard Millington) #5

Hey @lizcrampton

I think a big part of this is what your goal is and what the workload is like now.

The temptation is usually to do more things instead of doing existing things really well.

So the question would be what’s the strategy? What behaviour are you trying to change? How big is the community now? What kind of activity do they respond to?

(Jess Williams) #6

I think many companies are still exploring the right blend. I’ve seen some companies merge their marketing and community teams together, for example.

I worked on a 4-person community team and we all wore many hats based on our skillsets and what was needed at the time.

Everyone on our community team wrote blog posts and wrote their own event and programming content, but I often edited that content and worked with everyone to ensure our “voice” was positive, consistent and clear. This kind of model might also work for you if you have someone with strong writing/editing skills. Depending on what your community is focused on, you may also need a content strategy, editorial calendars, etc. which might also be led by this person.

The key will be figuring out what you’ll need for the long haul and then hiring well-rounded people who can specialize while also helping out in many other areas. Best of luck!

(Liz Crampton) #7

Thanks @jesswlms - I think you’re right about hiring well-rounded staff and trying to maximise flexibility that way. It would be good to get everyone creating content and having one person accountable for editing/tone etc.

Thanks @richard_millington - we’ve been under a lot of change so I think our strategy isn’t as clear at the moment as I’d like it to be, but generally our KPIs are around our community members telling us that they’re better able to manage their mental health since joining the community. In terms of behaviour change, that’s ultimately linked to how do you evaluate mental health improvement - feeling more confidence, more useful, being more active or more social etc.
I really liked your point about doing some of the existing stuff better rather than jumping at the opportunity to do more.

Thanks everyone! I’ll come back and share what I come up with…

(Sarah Hawk) #8

Provided each person is ultimately responsible for specific things, otherwise you’ll spend your life deciding things by committee.

(Richard Millington) #9

Working backwards then, I’d guess that being able to manage their mental health better means members need to:

  1. Read relevant information.
  2. Ask questions.
  3. Answer questions from others.

So I would probably aim to invest in those areas. For example.

1) Creating better quality information that is easier to digest and read. Consider using videos, graphics, and generally upgrading the content to be at the best possible levels. One person invested in interviewing the top experts in the world, people whom have overcome these problems, and creating content around that for example is going to achieve a lot. They could turn that into eBooks, projects etc…

2) Feeling more comfortable and encourages to ask questions. I’d consider having someone dedicated to interacting with more members, running surveys, and finding out what questions they would most like to ask but haven’t yet. Someone who can ask questions on their behalf, make everyone feel comfortable asking questions (especially newcomers).

3 Receiving more and better answers to questions). Finally I’d consider investing more in improving the answers to questions. This can more more answers, quicker answers, or better answers. Someone that can build up a list of people whom have been through relevant challenges in the past and can give a speedy, detailed, answer. Spend more time replying with relevant resources.

This would be a very strategic approach focused specifically on the kind of behavior that generates the best results. You’re investing in the biggest wins.

(Liz Crampton) #10

Absolutely @HAWK - want to avoid long decision-making processes at all costs!!

Thanks @richard_millington, that’s really useful and thanks for the link. Breaking it down like that to focus on support and info is helpful. For example, we’ve looking at enabling members to find others with the same interests through targeted search, whether that’s diagnosis, medication or hobbies etc. which should help with engagement but also getting more relevant info etc.

Thanks both!

(Anton) #11

In out small 800+ members community with 5 mods, I let everyone do what they feel they want to do the most, or they think will work the best.

If I don’t believe in their idea, I still give it a chance. As a result, some initiatives lead us to some hyper-active topics or gaining new active members who write regularly.

Somehow we’ve become No. 1 community in the target market in our country, and now thinking to expand to nearby countries who speak the same languages as us.

Resume: do what you want under little control has worked well for us.

(Sarah Hawk) #12

I think this is really important. The strength of a team is in the difference of ideas. It can be tricky though, especially if you’re working in a position where a public failure might reflect directly on you.

(Liz Crampton) #13

Thanks @meglio - that’s an interesting approach - I think it’d be challenging to do in a more ‘traditional’ structure like ours but I totally see the benefit in harnessing people’s passions/strengths and giving new ideas a chance.

(Richard Millington) #14

Think part of the challenge with this approach in traditional orgs comes in the form is:

  1. Is it part of our strategy?
  2. Have we tried it before?
  3. Does it match our brand/what we say?
  4. Is the idea valuable? Will it help us achieve our goals?
  5. Is it the most valuable idea we could be working on right now?


(Liz Crampton) #15

Right, and for charities as well, sometimes roles need to be specific because they’re either tied to funding (ie. a funder agrees to fund a very specific post/project/deliverable) and/or new roles require board sign off (and the board are asking Qs like you mentioned above…)