Recently, we shared in congratulations to the nominees and winners of the Global Workspace Association’s 2020 Community Manager of the Year Award. This week, we thought we’d share what we’ve learned about what makes for Best in Class Community Managers, over our many years of working exclusively with managed flexible office space providers. We’ve also reached out to some of our industry friends for their input to share with you as well.
When you sit down with your next Community Manager candidate, this is the number one, most important thing to look for. Ask yourself, first and foremost, does this candidate exude a positive energy? There are other skills required, of course, but without this as a bedrock, you won’t have best in class.
As Kris Elliott, COO, Novel Coworking confirms, ‘the most important skill a Community Manager must fulfill to be best in class? Positive attitude. People enjoy happy people and a community full of positive, happy people is a winning community.”
Make no mistake about it, the flex office industry is a hospitality business. The number two requirement for hiring best in class, is to make sure your Community Manager has an ethos of service. There are so many complications that arise on a day-to-day basis, and many things can be overlooked, when the core of the effort is to be of service.
Our friend Casey Godwin, President, FlexSpace Advisors shares this thinking similarly: ‘Best in class Community Managers possess a warm and inviting personality which makes potential new members feel at home from the first tour and ultimately determines the early success of leasing up the space. More importantly, the interpersonal skills of the Community Managers are key to connecting with members. Understanding members on a personal level, what makes them happy, how to connect them with others, and what drives their business, will ultimately play a critical role in fostering the type of community we’re all seeking in today’s world.’
Strong Multi-tasking Abilities
We’ve all met those individuals that can only work with singular focus. We have to love the diversity of personality in this world. However, this person is most definitely not a candidate for Community Manager in the coworking space world. You need to ascertain that any candidate for this job can almost literally do two tasks simultaneously. Can they graciously clear a stubborn copier jam while conducting a tour of the space – effectively using the moment as an onboarding training? If the answer is ‘yes’, this is the Community Manager for you.
Kris Elliott with Novel Coworking is again on point with her thoughts: “The most important skill a Community Manger should have is the ability to multi-task. There’s no telling what each new day will bring. Come in with a can-do attitude, juggle 700 things at once, and be ready to go again the next day.”
Know How and Multi-Disciplinary Savvy
There’s a quote, ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.’ Yes! This describes the role of the Community Manager. A best in class Community Manager is among other things: a sales guru, a social media/marketing guru, tech savvy, and a community organizer. When hiring for this position, review the candidates background for an array of skills and interests, you’ll probably find what you are looking for in someone with a multi-disciplinary background, or at the least, someone with a high degree of intellectual curiosity.
Michelle Stiegler, VP, Corporate Accounts & Partnerships, Premier Workspaces, concurs: “The CM is not only responsible for the business functions (Facilities, Sales, Billing, Communication to members, etc.) but in order to be best in class, they must also be well rounded and be able to plan member events and the PR with those events and also involved in Social Media promoting the community.
Leadership and Interpersonal Communication
As fun as the Community Manager job can be, there are those times which require a mastery of delicate communication. There’s the very loud member, that must be tamed, the unfortunate odiferous situation that requires address, the non-paying member with personal financial difficulties, the inappropriately dressed staff, the list goes on. While rarely enjoyable, a best in class Community Manager takes on these issues and many others with grace, honesty and compassion. Not every situation is smooth, but a great Community Manager learns and hones their skills for the next delicate situation and shows the rest of us how it’s done.
Oh, yes, Scott Chambers, COO of Pacific Workplaces agrees. A Best in Class CM is willing to confront the uncomfortable and do so in such a way as to find a balance between the needs of the members and the needs of the business.
As does, Mara Hauser, President 25NCoworking and Workplace Studios: The most important skill a Community Manager needs is leadership. The person in the role needs to balance the needs for the physical space, the coworkers and the business. They are the face of the business and they set the tone for the community.
Written by Tracy Wilson
COO of CloudVO
Pacific Workplaces Managing Partner