Making Room for the Next Generation of Community Professionals

Which community leaders helped you grow as a professional? Who in the industry do you study from or reference? On the last episode of Community Signal, our guest Mohamed Mohammed mentioned how his former manager, Joe Pishgar, helped him feel welcome in the industry. “You belong here” were Joe’s encouraging words to Mohamed, and this phrase signifies an ethos that Joe brings to his role as chief community officer for VerticalScope.

Managing an organization of 27 full-time community pros, 30 contracted admins, and over 10,000 volunteer moderators across 1,200 sites, Joe understands the necessity of scale and delegation, but also realizes that delegating is not always as simple as it sounds. “There’s competing thoughts in your head that surround the force of delegating. On the one hand, you don’t have enough time to do it all. The time you spend in operational or in tactical, you’re not spending at the strategic, and no one else is going to spend time at the strategic level.” (13:18) Joe also explains that by delegating and creating space, we give our team members the opportunity to grow and experience community management for themselves. 

How have leaders made space for you to grow as a community professional and how can you create that space for others?

Joe and Patrick also discuss:

  • The difference between having community volunteers and exploiting them
  • The ebb and flow of hiring booms in the community industry
  • Unifying strategy in an organization with multiple stakeholders and individual contributors

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

Giving your team the space to grow (03:48): “Give [your team] as much space as possible within the quantity of trust that you can hand them, let them complete those tasks, learn the discipline, and develop in the discipline so that they develop that confidence. It comes with getting it right, having space to get it right, but also making sure that you as supervisor [are] around for when they bump into those really tricky questions.” –@Pishgar

Autonomy will help newer recruits to develop their confidence as community managers (14:45): “If your name, clout, expertise, background, and experience is required for every single decision, you’re in trouble. Then you’ve got a bunch of people who are basically your eyes and ears out there who aren’t really taking things off of your plate as much as they need to be or as much as you need them to. … Sometimes you have to go hands-off, even if it means embracing that fear that it’s not going to get done 100% to your spec.” –@Pishgar

What drives your sense of fulfillment as a community manager? (17:15): “When I know that communities under my wing are growing, that I’m helping to make the world a better place, one individual forum member at a time, because they got an answer to their question, or they felt like they belonged, or there was something that they were shopping for that they got word of mouth on through a post that they found on one of our forums and they were only able to do that because the place was kept civil, that to me is fulfilling. That is my life work.” –@Pishgar

About Joe Pishgar

Joe Pishgar joined VerticalScope as its chief community officer in 2020. Joe is an 18+ year veteran of online community management. Prior to joining VerticalScope, he served as vice president Global Communities at Future plc, where he launched communities for PC Gamer, Space.com, Live Science, What Hi-Fi, and more. Previously, he served as director of community for Purch Inc., where he built the communities for Tom’s Hardware, Tom’s Guide, and AnandTech.

Transcript

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