4 Things to Do Before a Tough Conversation

HBR.org

You need to get your intentions straight.

Amy Edmondson, professor at Harvard Business School, first identified the concept of psychological safety in work teams in 1999. Since then, she has observed how companies with a trusting workplace perform better. Psychological safety isn’t about being nice, she says. It’s about giving candid feedback, openly admitting mistakes, and learning from each other. And she argues that kind of organizational culture is increasingly important in the modern economy. Edmondson is the author of the new book “The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth.”

Business.com
The 3 Best Qualities of a Community Manager

Community managers serve and represent your customers. They are your first line of defense to ensure your business is providing a product or service that benefits your community. A community manager gathers feedback from customers and acts as a point of communication between consumers and your business. 

"A community manager is a liaison between customers, usually online, and the brand," said Shane Green, corporate culture consultant and president of SGEi. "They are the ultimate brand ambassador and insider who stimulates conversations between customers." 

Community Manager Appreciation Day is every fourth Monday of January, and, this year, will be Monday, January 28. The day serves as a way to recognize the efforts of community managers who work to improve the customer experience. 

These employees have a critical role in every company, and it's important to hire a community manager that appropriately represents members. Business.com spoke with community managers, including our own, to learn what qualities and skills successful community managers possess.

1.  Great communication skills

All community managers should have excellent communication skills. They need to be skilled at initiating and holding conversations in-person and online. 

"As an online community manager, it can be easy to become more comfortable behind a computer screen where you have time to think through each response," said Taylor Perras, community manager at Business.com. "But it is just as important to have confidence in public speaking." 

Jonathan Bass, content marketing manager at RevenueWell, agrees that communication is key, because community managers need to advocate for the brand to customers and customers to the brand. "Almost like a double agent," Bass added. 

In addition to sparking online conversations, community managers should be skilled networkers who can build their company's community. 

"The more people they can reach out and touch, the more prospective brand advocates they can reel in," said Bass. "Networking is also important to see what works in other communities and how it can be implemented in their given space."

2. Think creatively and analytically

"Being a creative and analytical thinker will get you far in this role," Perras said. "Creativity [is essential], because you'll need to come up with new, original ways to engage members." Being rational, Perras added, is critical "… because you'll need to understand why engagement strategies did or didn't work." 

Community managers need to effectively listen and interpret what's being said about the brand. Once they understand what the community wants, they can effectively communicate that sentiment to other team members. That allows a company to stay nimble and respond to emerging concerns as they happen. 

"They must understand their customers and what is expected of the brand," Green said. "They must also be able to translate customer feedback, data and sentiment into stories and digestible overviews for every level of the organization."

3. Understand community etiquette and be respectful

Along with effectively striking up a conversation, community managers should understand social media platforms and online community etiquette. "Because they have such a strong online presence, their community networking skills and familiarity with social media etiquette and nuances are important," Green said. 

To community members, community managers are usually the face of the company, and it's important to be respectful and gain the trust of members. "Show empathy, stay knowledgeable, prove to be genuine, be timely in your responses, these and other skills are key to developing meaningful connections with your community members," said Perras 

From market research to brand development, good community managers have their hand in everything, Perras said. Bass agrees, adding that community managers are typically a jack of all trades. 

"A great community manager can walk into nearly any meeting in an office and carry weight. They are inside the brain of the customer and use that knowledge to help drive a brand forward," Bass added. 

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