We’re celebrating Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD) for the second year in a row, and what better way to commemorate the occasion than to appreciate a few of our own.
A community can’t thrive without someone to light the fire underneath it and keep it burning, every single day. It’s an intricate and tireless job, but someone’s gotta do it. But, we bet if you ask any community manager, they don’t see it as burden. They see it as a huge opportunity to make change by bringing people together to do great things.
Community Manager Appreciation Day is a one-day event to recognize the creators, facilitators, and visionaries who run great communities. In our “Kudos to Community Managers” blog series, we’ll be introducing you to some passionate people who use Igloo to power their communities. We’re proud to call them friends, and we’re excited to share their stories (and even a few trade secrets) with you.
Michelle Holden is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada (HIROC), a not-for-profit liability insurance provider for hospitals and healthcare organizations across Canada. HIROC uses their intranet to share news stories, resources, and other important company information with the staff. Here’s what Michelle shared about taking on the role of Community Manager at HIROC.
I: What is your role?
MH: As the Communications and Marketing Coordinator on a very busy four-person Communications team, I have my hand in a lot of projects at any given time, both internal and external. I write content for HIROC’s external website, write marketing collateral, attend conferences, help with employee events, and of course my most engaging and rewarding task: manage our intranet community, My HIROC!
I: What is a typical day for you?
MH: I update the news section of My HIROC a few times a week to keep content current for staff, so on a typical day, I’m writing a new article (be that a staff project worth sharing, a spotlight on a new employee, or useful information staff can use in their jobs). I also interact with people throughout the company, fielding questions about where to find information and making sure documents are kept up to date.
When I take off my Community Manager hat, my time is dedicated to writing articles for HIROC’s web site, organizing material for our external magazine, The HIROC Connection and our monthly e-blast newsletter, planning employee engagement events like our annual HIROCafé, and helping plan events and conferences.
I: What is the most satisfying part of your job?
MH: As much as I love marketing and interacting with our clients outside of the office, at the end of the day I get the most satisfaction from hearing how much staff appreciate our efforts to make the office an open and collaborative atmosphere (online and off). When I work with a colleague to write a feature on a new project they’ve been working on to share on My HIROC, I can tell my work has made them feel more valued. Being able to have that kind of impact I think is so important.
I: How do you keep your members engaged?
MH: When staff ask me to post a document, whenever possible, I often turn it around and show them how to do it instead. The same goes for pitching and writing stories. Our staff was fairly comfortable commenting on stories and liking things on the previous intranet site, but we’ve definitely seen an increase in engagement since launching My HIROC. What I’ve noticed is that staff really enjoy stories about their colleagues, so when I do a story that mentions someone, I make a point to tag employees in an effort to pull them in and share the story with others.
Our CEO also writes a blog and encourages staff to read it (sometimes slyly testing whether they have). Having senior leader support of My HIROC and the Community Manager role really says something to staff about the importance of employee engagement, and no doubt, played a part in our winning one of the GTA’s Top Employer awards this year.
I: What do you do when you see engagement starting to drop?
MH: I try and figure out why. I know staff can get busy and don’t always have time to go online and check out what’s new so I take that into consideration. Whenever possible I try and find new voices, staff who may not be engaged yet, and find a way for them to get involved. In our office of about 100 staff, there’s no hiding from Communications.
I: How do you find great stories to share with your community?
MH: I keep my ear to the ground, so to speak. My team does the same. We all share ideas and talk with our colleagues to try and get a sense of what’s going on and what would be of interest to staff. I also read a lot to try and pull story ideas from the internet on careers and personal development; staff really takes to these articles. It’s a running joke when my colleagues see me coming that I’m going to try and make them write a story about something (anything). But try as they might, I get the story in the end!
I: Who are your partners in crime?
MH: My small but close-knit team are my partners in crime. We all write stories and address feedback about the site. We also have a handful of staff in Admin and HR who are responsible for updating and posting documents. Giving them the responsibility takes some of the weight off my shoulders and also helps them learn how to use the site and find ways to improve things.
I: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in your organization since your community launched?
MH: The biggest change I’ve seen is the idea that continuous improvement of our culture and sense of community is possible, and staff certainly see that. Right from the launch, they got on board and kept an open mind, which helps a lot. When colleagues come to me and ask why our web site can’t be as well-organized and fresh as our Intranet, I feel a sense of pride for sure. But then I remember that I’m the site manager for that site as well and I put my thinking cap on as to how we can improve things externally for our clients. There’s never a dull moment!
I: If you could give one piece of advice to a new community manager, what would it be?
MH: Deep down, you know better than anyone what features your staff will adopt and those that might not work so well. Use your intuition and build something that works for your organization rather than incorporating tools just because they seem cool. And when you do try something new, avoid throwing the whole playbook at staff at one time. Give them time to get used to a tool and don’t be afraid to take a step back if something doesn’t work. I guess that was two pieces of advice!
I: What’s your favorite saying at work?
MH: Why are we doing this? I ask a lot of questions and play devil’s advocate from time to time to make sure what we’re doing has purpose and value.
We celebrate Community Managers
We’re proud to partner with community managers like Michelle to build thriving communities for a more productive and engaged workforce. For more community management resources and free activities, including a Community Manager manifesto and our Calling All Champions engagement guide, visit our CMAD microsite here: try.igloosoftware.com/cmad.