The Community Manager Apathy Cycle and How to Fix It
“Why are we doing this?” thinks every Community Manager ever, at least in the beginning.
In the beginning of their careers, Community Mangers are very intuitive. They understand what’s right and what’s wrong. They see the issues and they see the solutions, the often hard-to-swallow solutions. It’s akin to how a child sees the world. They see the greed and the corruption and the ignorance. They say things that make us veterans laugh. “They just don’t understand yet,” we say, “but they’ll learn.”
Over the months of proposing solutions only to get shot down and told how things actually are or that X isn’t in the budget, Community Managers stop proposing solutions. They begin playing it safe. They buy into the dogma that existed when they arrived. It sucks, but they take it because this $40K salary (if they are lucky) is the only thing keeping them from moving back to middle America or going homeless on the streets of SoMa.
A few more months go by and they grow more and more jaded. The members, while taking the role of friends at times, often become the adversary. “If it weren’t for these annoying, needy, greedy, [insert adjective of choice here] members, we’d get more done and my job would be easier.” At the behest of upper management they create schemes and promotions and do whatever they can to get more members, and to increase revenue from current members. The people in the community are no longer the priority for the Community Manger, just their wallets.
One day the Community Manager gets fired because their attitude has gone south and they aren’t achieving the nearly impossible goals set before them. Or they quit because they just can’t take the hypocrisy anymore.
What went wrong?
Answer: you did.
“But I work hard!” you say. “I’m the founder! These people aren’t grateful! I deserve to make money! I deserve loyal staff! If I want it done a certain way it should be done that way!”
You don’t deserve shit. Everything you have was built on the backs of others at some point and the second you stop being grateful for that and thinking you know it all, you’re dead.
There’s an alternative.
Listen to the people with the fresh perspectives. The things they say may sound stupid at first, or impossible. But there’s often hard truths in what our novice compatriots tell us, truths we’ve been ignoring for some time.