A Community Core Team

While gathering feedback from the deputies/mentors (also, can we just say deputies instead of separating that into two different labels? “people helping with community wrangling” is the definition for both despite different tasks) is important in deciding what changes to make to this program, there is plenty of low-hanging fruit that we can start knocking down.

Here’s an apple dangling from its branch:

We need to make leadership of the community team more decentralized, more globally distributed, more reliable, and more transparent. 

Starting the deputies program was a step in that direction, but we need to go a lot further, and I think we are ready.

Currently

Right now, the “official” leadership of this team rests with Josepha and Cami, with me and Andrea coming back in for awhile to help catch up the backlog and try to organize some stuff to be more efficient. All four of these people are in the US, and all four are employed by Automattic. Then we have a handful or two of deputies that help out a little or a lot, depending on what else they’ve got going on. Most of these deputies are not employed by Automattic, and a few are not US-based, but we don’t necessarily know how much time they can give each week, and the core people for whom this is a full-time job wind up feeling overwhelmed when the backlog grows and they have to try and catch up when the volunteers have other things to do that week. The vagaries of wrangling volunteers and making up for when they won’t or can’t deliver should be familiar territory for all our deputies, since you’ve been in this position yourselves when organizing WordCamps or Meetups. It’s frustrating, right? I have an idea.

Expand the Team Leadership

What if we decide as a group that we want a little more structure on this team, and create a community core team made up of the people who are able to commit to x hours per week of the various tasks involved in running the program? Obviously that would still include the current full-time 4, but just like the core team that makes the software we all know and love (on good days, anyway), we would include people who have some dedicated time donated by their employers, and the self-employed/freelancers who’ve decided to make this a commitment as equally “official” members of the team, where some people do it full time and others are just a couple of hours per week (but they are good hours 🙂 ). If we knew for sure we could count on these people, we could start decentralizing responsibilities that are time-sensitive or that touch sensitive information to be shared by more people. This could get the full-time 4 out of the never-ending pit of backlog/reactive customer support, and we could focus some time on creating tools and processes to make things easier instead of always treading water (sometimes less successfully than anyone likes). Sound like a plan?

I’ve started reaching out to some business owners in the wp ecosystem that seem like a good fit for donating an employee’s time. It doesn’t need to be full-time (though wow that would be great); even a few hours each week can make a big difference if we know we can count on them no matter what. So:

  • If you have a business and would be willing to donate some employee time
  • If you are already volunteering on company time (or your own) and would like to make it official
  • If you are already volunteering but not on company time and would like help convincing your boss that it’s a good idea
  • If you are not yet volunteering but would like to, if you can convince your boss (or are willing to make the commitment on behalf of your own time)

…let me know. You can leave a comment here, or if you’d rather raise your hand less publicly, you can email me at jenmylo at wordpress.org. I am happy to reach out to your boss if it seems like a good fit. We’re especially in need of people outside the US for both time zone and language reasons, but also just because our community team leadership should be representative of the community team itself, which spans dozens of countries.

Getting Trained

In the meantime, we are going to start training more people on how to do more stuff here, whether their bosses are paying them for it or not. We’ll do the first of these trainings (video format) on Tuesday, June 16 at 11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern, 6pm UTC and cover how to process meetup group applications and get organizers started with new groups or roll their current group into the chapter account. If this time doesn’t work for you, don’t worry, we’ll record it and post it, and will set up a another training in the future that’s friendlier to the Asia/Australia side of the world. If you are interested in attending the training on the 16th, please let us know in the comments so we can decide which format will work best (hangout, hangout on air+slack, zoom, etc) and we’ll give you the link to join that day. We’ll work out the topics of future trainings as we get feedback from the deputies and can take a more educated guess at which tasks will make the biggest impact if they are shared more widely.

Transparency

When we have more people doing the work, we’ll have more available time to work on things like tools for managing stuff, tracking progress, etc, and we can say goodbye to private google docs forever in favor of transparent information posted right here on this site. But first we need more people we can count on so that we can plan appropriately. Can you help?

 

#deputies, #community-management, #mentors, #training