What to Look for in Your Next Community Manager

We’ve created a series of articles to help you know what to keep in mind (or, what to highlight on your resume) if you’re looking for a new position in the workplace industry, or the right person to fill it. Up first: five things that make a great community manager.

Jamie Russo, chief of work and wellness at Enerspace Coworking, interacts with coworkers in the Enerspace Chicago kitchen.
Jamie Russo, chief of work and wellness at Enerspace Coworking, interacts with coworkers in the Enerspace Chicago kitchen. Image courtesy of Russo.

1. They’re a host with the most

“Whether a space has a hospitality orientation or a member-DIY approach, the community manager helps to shape the culture and norms of the space through member orientations, ongoing communication, and daily interactions,” said Jamie Russo, the chief of work and wellness at Enerspace Coworking.

“As a great host would do at a party, the community manager makes connections among members. They remember details like who is looking for a designer and whose kids go to the same schools, and they draw these members together,” she said. “Some interactions will be serendipitous collisions, but the community manager’s job is to help to facilitate connections whenever possible, growing and strengthening the community.”

2. They embody the values of the community

“We always look for someone who embodies our values and core culture,” said Carl Pierre, the DC city lead for WeWork.

Indeed, the job descriptions for WeWork community managers include mantras like “You do what you love!”, “You love working with people!”, and “There is no room for ‘I’ at WeWork. Every role and individual in the organization is to serve We.”

That embodiment of values “guides [WeWork’s] decision making on hiring, more than anything,” he said.

3. They’re comfortable wearing many hats

Liz Elam, the curator of Link Coworking and the founder of GCUC, told us that a community manager is not so much a community manager as he is a jack of all trades.

“First and foremost, they need to have mad people skills — they will be the greeter, the salesperson, and they’ll set the tone for the day,” she said. “They are typically very positive people that can also handle detail work, manage events, and problem solve on the fly.”

“A good manager is worth his weight in gold,” she added. “A poor community manager can take you out of business.”

4. They’re — forgive us for bringing this up — an extrovert

We’ve grown weary of the whole introvert/extrovert/ambivert conversation, at least as it pertains to the workplace, but this is one job where a potential hire’s Myers-Briggs type can really make a difference.

“This role requires constant interaction with current and potential members,” said Russo. “A community manager must draw energy from spending most of the day interacting with others. This is not for the neutral ambivert, this is for the all-in extrovert.”

5. They empower the people around them

“The main thing I look for in a community manager is their ability to empower their members to connect directly to one another and to use available resources to self-organize wherever possible. If a community manager can think of themselves less as a provider and more as a facilitator, they can approach every interaction with a member as an opportunity to give power and permission,” said Tony Baciagalupo, the co-founder of New Work City and the author of the recently published e-book No More Sink Full of Mugs: Lighten Your Workload, Increase Participation, and Build Better Culture in Your Coworking Space. “A community manager finds the nascent leadership energy in among their members and does whatever they can to activate it, and stays out of the way as much as possible,” he added. “A member wants to see a certain kind of gathering happening? Great, here’s how they can do it themselves.”

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