This episode is an important one, and one of our most intense to date. We covered so much in this episode that we strongly suggest you simply listen, but here’s the tl;dr:
Jason Yee, PJ Hagerty, and Carina C. Zona join Jason and Mary to talk through some of the prevalent struggles in community management: what our roles actually entail (and how to communicate that to the rest of the company), how we define ourselves, how to protect our roles, what we need in order to survive the day in and day out of this job that we love, and if a company decides to let their community department go, how (and when) to do that.
Here are a few highlights: Who are we? * We are the listeners, the connectors, the avatars of the company we represent. We’re the low-bullshit communicator – the people who are known for being honest, as well as someone the community can be honest with, and as such, we’re a reflection of the company to the rest of the world. * We’re the oracle that’s supposed to make sense of the unknown and then transmit that information to the decision-makers… easy, right? * We’re specialists. Just like the engineers. Just like the sales people. We’re specialists. Companies need to understand this, and allow us to do the things we specialize in instead of forcing us into situations where we do things that aren’t our job poorly.
What do we do? * There’s so much “mysticism” in what we do that people get confused about what it is that we do and how we show our worth. It’s essential for us to find ways to communicate what we’re doing on a regular basis back to the company. * Despite how it appears, we don’t keep flipping hats around, choosing whichever one suits us that day… we keep adding more hats, which makes our results difficult to quantify.
How do we protect ourselves? * Make sure our manager has our back. We need someone to fight our battles for us, even shield us to a certain extent, so that we can do our job. In the perfect world, the person above us is the umbrella that protects us from the things going on above us, not by keeping us from knowing what we need to know in order to do our job, but allowing us to focus on our day-to-day tasks while they take care of the higher-level conversations and the fight to keep our department afloat. * The question companies need to start asking isn’t “Can we continue to afford to pay these people?” but “Can we afford to lose the goodwill and amount of work that these folks are putting into our community?”
Jason is a technical writer and evangelist at Datadog, where he works to inspire developers and ops engineers with the power of metrics and monitoring. Previously, he was the community manager for DevOps & Performance at O’Reilly Media and a software engineer at MongoDB. He’s also a co-organizer of DevOpsDays Portland. When he’s not speaking at conferences or helping organize them, he likes to spend time on planes “travel hacking” and hunting for interesting regional whiskey.
Developer, writer, speaker, musician, and Founder of DevRelate.io, PJ is known to travel the world speaking about programming and the way people think and interact. Traveling to conferences and meet ups around the world, PJ likes to spread the word on the importance of community and coding, stressing the importance of outreach and focusing on the human side of being a coder. He is also known for wearing hats.
Founder of CallBackWomen, Developer Advocate
Senior Cloud Ops Advocate at Microsoft. Jason Hand writes, presents, and coaches on the principles and nuance of DevOps, Site Reliability Engineering, and modern incident management practices. Named “DevOps Evangelist of the Year” by DevOps.com in 2016, Jason recently authored a new book on the topic of Site Reliability Engineering. In addition to SRE, Jason has authored books with O’Reilly Media on the subject of post-incident reviews and Chatops. DevOpsDays Rockies organizer and host of the Front-range Site Reliability Meetup, Jason is dedicated to the latest trends in technology, sharing the lessons learned, and helping people continuously improve their IT and software development practices.
Mary Thengvall is a connector of people at heart, both personally and professionally. She loves digging into the strategy of how to build and foster communities, and has been working with various developer communities for over 10 years. After several years of building community programs at O’Reilly Media, Chef Software, and SparkPost, she’s now consulting for companies looking to build out a Developer Relations strategy. She’s also the author of the first book on Developer Relations: The Business Value of Developer Relations (© 2018, Apress)