By Ted McEnroe, The Community Roundtable
We talk a lot about executive engagement and sponsorship throughout The Community Manager Handbook: 20 Lessons from Community Superheroes – and with good reason. Our research shows that Best-in-Class communities have sharply higher rates of executive engagement than average. We also have seen the power of engaged leadership in driving adoption of community initiatives across organizations.
Because of those statistics, it’s not surprising that a lot of community professionals put executive engagement high on their priority lists for their communities. Getting executives excited about and engaged in the community will trickle down.
How do you start?
- Keep it simple – recognize the time and focus limitations of busy executives
- Keep it personal – one-to-one has impact and is worth the investment
- Make it easy – give executives tools that make engagement simple
- Make it relevant – help executives understand both the power of their participation to the organization and its positive impact on their specific responsibilities
But that doesn’t mean you can ignore the rest of the organization in your efforts to build stakeholder support.
At Fidelity Investments, Kirsten Laaspere and her team spent hours engaging executives about the launch and importance of their internal community. But, she advises, spending time with all levels of the company was critical to the initiative’s success.
Using webinars, established communication tools and Q and A sessions, they made sure word about the community, named Ribbit (after Fidelity’s unofficial frog mascot), got out to the entire organization. “We knew we needed to get executives on board, but we needed to get the associates excited too, so that when executives said, ‘Hey, we should try this Ribbit thing,’ they could jump right in.”
For organizations with skeptical leadership, having partners who can add strength to the community case and have the ears of management can nudge hesitant executives to dip that first toe in the community water.
Want more strategies to overcome common challenges facing community professionals as they start, build and grow their communities? Download the Community Manager Handbook: 20 Lessons from Community Superheroes.