Leveling Up Your Community Team With Specialized Roles

As community leaders, we’re responsible for people. The people in our communities and the people that serve them. In this episode, Chris Catania, head of community at Esri, shares how he approaches planning for growth and specialization for his community organization, for his people, and for his own role.

Chris is currently hiring for three roles, a community operations manager, a community manager for engagement and content, and a community manager for ArcGIS Ideas. Chris shares the responsibilities and scope for each of these roles, in addition to the challenges and advantages of hiring right now. In addition to the effects of the “great resignation,” as specialization and scope of responsibility within the community industry grows, so does the need to be clear in our job listings, success metrics, and paths to growth.

Chris and Patrick also discuss:

  • The role specializations and career paths that Chris is charting for his team and himself
  • Hiring for specializations within community
  • Communicating your team’s value to other execs (and around the dinner table)

Our Podcast is Made Possible By…

If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Hivebrite, the community engagement platform.

Big Quotes

Esri’s community team is two sides of the house (1:49): “[Our community team has] a structure where we have two halves. I’ve been using the analogy of a house: Two sides of the house. … An operational side, community ops, and on the other side, we have community experience and programs.” –@chriscatania

The current landscape for job applicants and hiring managers (4:31): “There’s a multi-layer effect that’s going on in the job market where you have the Great Resignation going on … [and] then you have this other layer that has emerged over the last five years where you have this proliferation of community jobs.” –@chriscatania

All job candidates have areas where they need help (10:20): “Having been in the community industry for a while, [I’ve been able to] get a good idea of all the different paths that you can take. … [This is] influencing how we are approaching the strategy of the hiring process, and knowing that there’s not one person out there that is going to do everything that we [need a given] role to do.” –@chriscatania

Planning for your team’s growth (24:46): “I started really looking at our new org structure for the community team early last year because I saw the team was growing, … individually and as a team. I saw the community industry starting to advance … people coming into it were really accelerating. I looked at my team, and [said], ‘Okay, I need to think about promotions. I need to think about their path.'” –@chriscatania

Planting the seeds to grow and promote your team (25:33): “As I have meetings with my boss about our team and what our team is doing, I plant seeds with them. ‘Look what this person’s doing.’ Because I’ve seen that work with executives over the years of trying to get buy-in incrementally, just walking in and boom, put down the plan. I like to plant seeds. I like to make a case over time so that when you go for the ask [to grow or promote], it’s like, ‘Yes, you got it.'” –@chriscatania

Giving out skimpy raises will often lose you money (28:41): “I’ve worked at places where I’d have to grind out an $8,000 raise to go with a promotion for someone who’s been there five years. I was like, ‘They need $10,000.’ ‘You can have $8,000.’ That $2,000 in our pocket, it’s worth nothing. That $2,000 in their pocket is worth something, because if we lose that person, the amount of time that I’m going to have to spend training, interviewing, we’re going to lose way more than that, in my time and in our company’s time.” –@patrickokeefe

About Chris Catania

For more than 20 years, Chris Catania has developed a versatile array of skills and experiences in strategic communication, community management, customer experience, global business strategy and emerging media production. He is a dedicated community and collaboration leader, who always thinks “people first, technology next,” and uses his passion for emerging community and communication strategies to drive measurable business results and design meaningful experiences for employee and customer audiences. Chris is currently the head of community at Esri.


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