Deputy Discussions: Raising Concerns and Resolving Issues

We have more deputies on the Global Community Team than ever before, which is so fantastic! And of course, when any group welcomes new members, people start to notice where behavior and communication norms were assumed, rather than explained.

In this post I’ll outline some of the communication paths within the Deputy group that may have only been assumed in the past. Hopefully this will help deputies feel confident when addressing problems that might arise during their work with local community organizers or other deputies.

They say “when you see something, say something…” but to whom? And how?

There’s a lot of work being done on the Global Community Team, and no wonder — there are more WordPress meetups and WordCamps than ever! Luckily, we’ve got more and more deputies involved to help train and support community organizers.

We’re all human, though, and we all make mistakes. Plus, community admin work includes a number of subjective decisions. If you notice that another deputy missed a possible issue when vetting an application, or you happen to notice a community grant is surprisingly low, etc., don’t just shrug and keep on going — check in!  Here’s how:

First, check in directly with the person who did the work. On this team, we strive to ask questions first, in an effort to understand why something happened in a certain way. (This is a great way to find out if your assumptions are correct! Sometimes they’re not!)

Once you’ve gathered additional context, if you think someone made a mistake — or you disagree with their decision — remember to deliver that feedback courteously. Critical feedback is shared with the intent to help your teammate avoid making a mistake again in the future, and should be carefully phrased to avoid hurt feelings.

I encourage everyone on this team to follow a call-in approach, rather than a call-out approach. Over the years, I’ve found it’s more effective to give my fellow contributors a chance to answer questions and correct mistakes by communicating directly and cooperatively.

Whenever possible, avoid the call-out approach with members of the local communities that you’re advising/supporting. If you’ve approached a local community organizer to raise a concern and your feedback didn’t have the result you expected, it’s not appropriate to complain about (or to) the organizer(s) in a public space. Your best next step is to ask another deputy for help in conveying your message more effectively or strategizing another approach.

I checked in with someone, and we just don’t agree. Now what?

We’re a big team! People take on this deputy role because they are passionate about the way WordPress community is built. Lots of strong opinions around can lead to differences of opinion, and that’s okay.

If you have a difference of opinion with another deputy that you haven’t been able to work through directly with that person, the next step is to reach out to another member of the team for advice and feedback. If you’re part of a deputy mentorship group, reach out to your mentor and get their opinion. If you don’t agree with your mentor, here are other highly experienced deputies you can contact for advice, a second opinion, or to raise a concern with:

@francina, @hlashbrooke, @kcristiano, @camikaos, @bph, @_dorsvenabili, @andreamiddleton

I just don’t like the decision that the team has agreed on. What should I do?

Pretty much everyone on the global community team, including me, disagrees with a few team practices or past decisions. If you’re really struggling with a situation and don’t feel that you’re getting anywhere after talking to other deputies — including multiple people on the above list — then… you’re probably pretty upset, and having a hard time. At this point, it’s time for a few reminders, and then a few questions.

Reminders:

  1. This isn’t emergency work.
  2. No one is perfect.
  3. It’s hard for any one person to know all our expectations and best practices.
  4. Everyone is trying to do what’s best for WordPress (even when we don’t agree on what that is).  

And those questions:

  1. Does the outcome of this decision have an effect on the well-being of participants? And will the outcome be noticeable to attendees in particular?
  2. What is my ultimate goal?
  3. Is there a fundamental conflict between my personal values or goals, and the expectations for my contributor role?
  4. Can I “disagree and commit” here, or do I need to step away from this role*? (Is this issue/problem so important to me that I can’t continue to work cooperatively on this team because of this decision?)  

*It’s always ok to take a break from contributor work for a short or long time, for any reason. If you need to step away from a role in which a lot of people depend on you, for any reason other than an emergency, please give the team as much notice as possible so your responsibilities can be handed off gracefully.  

Feedback

What do you think?

  1. Did I accurately describe the way people on this team aspire to communicate about and resolve conflicts or concerns, or did I miss something?
  2. Are there any steps or expectations here that you think are confusing, unnecessary, or unwise?
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