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The many faces of the community manager

It is the host, the motivator, the analyst and the reporter; the community manager has many faces. Thomas Spauwen, expert employee communities at InnerVoice tells more about the different roles of the community manager.

What is the value of an employee community?
“That’s basically three things. First: top speed. A community is an online thinktank always ready to give inputs. An employee survey does not have to last for weeks; mostly it is a matter of days. And for emergencies we can come within 24 hours with the results.

A second point that is highly valued, is the output of this research method. Within a community you can simultaneously start a conversation with a large group of employees. This results in broad qualitative insights. In other words: it not only makes clear which are the existing different voices among employees, but you also understand well where these different opinions come from.

Finally, a community is the ideal instrument to listen to your employees. It is easy to put a topic on the agenda, to submit questions to the group, or start an online brainstorm.
By combining questioning and open listening, your organisation always knows what is going on among the employees. You can stimulate to think and discuss together how to come to a better Employee Experience."

How does the community manager start a discussion?
“It starts with the goals and questions from the topic owner within the HR-team. From there we formulate start questions for the discussion. At the one hand it is relevant to be clear in the questioning. On the other hand it is crucial for the success of an employee community that participants are enthusiastic and therefore we have to come with an appealing invitation."

How to get from the question at the start to a valuable discussion?
“Before we start a new activity, we already thought about the follow up questions for the theme and discuss these with the topic owner. We keep the briefing in mind and we take a semi-structured approach within the dialogue with employees. This means that we respond to every individual by deciding per person what the best follow up question is, that can be posed.”

How to make sure that employees in the community continue to participate actively?
“The most important motivator – we see that coming back again and again in evaluative research among participants – is when people experience that they are heard. Next to that we make use of creative methods and techniques. This has a positive effect on the engagement and the speed and depth of the discussions and contributions”.

How to make sure that all those responses lead to a structured report?
“That is a profession in itself. Already from the start of each activity we collect the responses and group these. So we can see more and more patterns in the data. By more complex or lengthy themes, we organise analysis sessions to combine all output comprehensively.”

How important is it to provide participants with feedback of the results?
“That is important after every theme, but especially with a continuous community where you are having dialogues with employees throughout the whole year. We therefore ask the topic owner to tell us what insights the report gave and what will be done with the results. The more we can share, the more impact it has on the motivation of employees to participate in the community.”
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