Community managers: The next hot trend in work

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This is a new series of the podcast about the growth of community managers in firms – scroll down for all 4 episodes.

Episode 1 looks at why community managers are a topic to watch. That’s a key question, what’s next with work – specifically how can we make work feel like a community again, especially when you’re hunkered down under the duvet trying to survive the November chill. Over these episides I’m going to be chatting to some incredible guests.

Episode 1 is with Sarah Drinkwater who is a supreme community builder and now works for the Atomico fund.

Some links to what we discuss!

I mention that Gary runs Wonder – this is their website

Follow Sarah on Twitter

Sarah’s Medium post

She mentions Jason Fried’s book Rework (my own book was inspired by Rework but I found it was frustrating how little research and evidence Fried used to justify his opinions)

The Interintellect

Q Anon – great piece on how one woman felt enveloped by the community (before she twigged it was all nonsense)

Q Anon – outstanding Reply All when they pretty much work out which crackpot is behind it. Created by a crackpot, weaponised by the GRU.

The Sunrise Movement – love these kids

Image by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

Episode 2 is with Abadesi Osunsade, it’s a further exploration of how firms will try to evolve their culture by hiring Community Managers. If you’ve not listened to the first episode featuring Sarah Drinkwater pull up, back up and tuck in to that one first. Sarah said the person I should talk to is Abadesi Osunsade from Brandwatch – and so that’s who we are talking in episode 2. Abadesi’s title is VP Global Community & Belonging at the 500 strong organisation.

We talk about seeking to get better at Diversity & Inclusion, giving voice to teams (and applicants) and how to build community in organisations who are no longer together.

Abadesi mentions Square’s Rise program. This is the scheme that ensures there’s always one minority candidate at the last stage of each hiring process. You’ll find more details on it here. (note I couldn’t find it on the UK website so maybe stay on the US site when it asks if you want to move).

Here’s Abadesi’s book and the other organisation she’s part of The Hustle Crew

Episode 3 is with one of the most respected community thinkers in the world, Casper ter Kuile, Fellow at the Harvard Divinity School and author of The Power of Ritual. His book is a practical guide to the way that communities come to life, not only is it practical it’s also brilliantly written. I found myself annotating a lot of it and it’s impossible not to learn from his wisdom on the topic.

“Disconnection sours the sweet things in life and makes them nearly unbearable”

Casper previously wrote a free book with Angie Thurston is at Harvard Divinity School called How We Gather which was a wonderful exploration of how post religious (secular) groups were creating get togethers that seemed to be inspired by the religious communities that went before them. Casper’s perspective is wonderful, so respectful of religion even though he sits outside of it.

This series of episodes has been about understanding how our organisations can shape a sense of belonging in us, especially when we’re no longer physically together.

I feel like the episodes are a journey. No one has professed to know the answers and there’s plenty of cautionary notes. I’m certain anyone trying to shape community in their work will come away with plenty of thoughts after this. Not least that Casper says that it goes strongly against the spirit of community that someone in a community can fire someone else. Community is built on safety.

In the podcast I also talk about a previous episode on rituals and you can find that here.

The final episode is with Jillian Richardson.

Jillian Richardson found that one of the most relatable things that any of us can do is confess to others that we’re lonely. Freshly arrived in Manhattan she found the paradox of big cities is that we can be alone while surrounded with others. Her response was to create the Joy List – a list that once set about connecting people across New York with other like minded individuals and now sets about connecting anyone virtually.

The Joy List has become a phenomenon recommended by Esther Perel, Priya Parker and many more. She’s also the author of Unlonely Planet.

Jillian gives us her 5 rules of community – and cautions that while communities can exist in the workplace we should be cautious about trying to get everyone into the same community at work. She also talks about her ‘Ask’ and ‘Offer’ walls as a device to bring teams together.

Peter Block: “Community requires a concept of the leader as one who creates experiences for others. Experiences that in themselves are examples of our desired future”.

If you’re thinking I’d love Jillian’s help she offers her services professionally both as a course and as personal coaching. If you want to hire her she’s willing and able to take that on and I’ve given a link on the show notes.

Jillian mentions the Ritual Design Lab.