It’s summer. The weather is warm and the beach and lakes are calling. It is not the time to force engagement just because organizations like to see everything go up and to the right. And yet, there is a persistent anxiety among community managers that they must always be on and always connected – if not because of the needs of community, then because of the needs of the business. We don’t think this is healthy for community teams or for the community. Why?
- If the community dies down in activity during certain periods, forced engagement seems, well, forced – and it tends to be unsuccessful anyway. Let the community go away and do other things, trusting that interest and engagement will return.
- There is nothing more disheartening for community teams than to be asked to do something that goes against the culture and tempo of the community. It feels forced and even a bit desperate – and it burns out the team.
- Community managers need the break too. Breaks give everyone great perspective on issues big and small. That perspective comes primarily from getting away from daily tasks and being in a new environment. Relationships are not necessarily better with increased togetherness.
- Communities, like children, need to learn to take responsibility for themselves. If the community manager is always there to solve every problem, the community will never develop independence and that will eventually stunt its growth. Taking a programming and community management break are great opportunities to see what emerges.
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder. If the community is really operating as a community – full of relationships and with a distinct culture – it will survive a break and even thrive because of it.
- There is no light without darkness. We know of community managers who have completely shut down their communities in order to demonstrate the value and while we don’t necessarily think you need to go to that extreme, the lack of something really is the best way to get people to understand how valuable it is.
At TheCR Network we have a few different strategies over the summer months. We’ve had summer book club discussions every year, we typically do something that is a bit more ‘fun’ then normal programming (this summer Flat Hillary is making the rounds of our members and providing great insights into the wide range of work environments along the way) and we take a break. This summer we will have no formal roundtable calls scheduled in August although we will still be available and still be doing some programming. Lastly, everyone on our team is taking some time to travel, swim, read or take some time for themselves. We have had a very busy year and this is a well deserved time off and critical space for us to invest in other things that make us whole people – and that is the best investment we can make in our community.
Rachel Happe is co-founder of TheCR Network, a membership network that provides strategic, tactical and professional development programming for community and social business leaders. The network enables members to connect and form lasting relationships with experts and peers as well as get access to vetted content.