At this year’s Community Rebellion Conference, Corina Gheonoa, Global Community Director at UiPath, spoke about how community leaders can gain executive support while also showing executives why community leaders are valuable to the company as a whole.
The UI Path community is a global community of over 150k professionals, passionate about automation and software development. While growing the community, Corina came up with five ingredients for gaining executive support for your community.
As the executive of your community, you have a mandate to represent your community to executives and the company as a whole. Regardless of who tells you what to do or gives you the job description, you are the one accountable and you are the one who is in the community. You should build the mindset that you are the subject matter expert and that is why you were brought into the role.
You can also learn from your executives and encourage them to be in the community with you, and conversely, understand that they have things to learn from you. Being in the executive mindset, and understanding what their priorities are, how they best communicate, and what their working style is will help you gain common ground.
As a few examples, you could create a quarterly report in the same format as how the executives create their reports. If quarterly is too frequent, you could create a year-in-review report to show a high level executive summary of the milestones and goals that your community experienced in the year. Lastly, you could also share industry reports and showing standards in the space and show the baseline and trends within the industry.
When it comes to strategy, get ready to think about the long run. Firstly, develop a strong foundation with solid business objectives. These objectives should remain the same rather than change whenever leadership changes.
When creating objectives for your community, Corina recommends making them as large and relevant as possible. She encouraged attendees to “zoom out” and focus on the big picture so that their objectives easily transfer and make sense to various leaders and department heads.
Although companies change frequently and that may impact the community, it’s important to still be flexible and show that the community can be a part of the company’s changes. However, be mindful of how flexible the community is and that the values of the community should remain concrete. You can be agile while still caring about the core values that you create.
One of the most effective ways to gain executive support is to “become a way of operating” in your company.
Leaders may change at the company, but teams and functions stay. If you become a way of operating with the team itself, like how they do work, the teams not only know how to work with the community, but in the event there are personnel changes, you still have the stability and tenure of working with the team.
Becoming a way of operating involves working with various teams, being part of how things get done, and influencing the way other teams operate.
If a community leader becomes part of how other departments operate, it’s easier for them to demonstrate their value. When they go to executives to ask for support, they won’t have to just talk about what they will do. Instead, they can show what they’re already doing and the results they’ve helped to produce.
Corina opened this section of the representation with an important message: “You love all your data. [The executives] first need to flirt with it.” In other words, community leaders must avoid overloading executives with data. Instead, they should remember that less can be more.
Additionally, language should be straightforward. There should be clear definitions of what the numbers mean and make use of stories to bring up the community spirit. With community, there is a lot of qualitative value, and it’s important to supplement the quantitative data with the qualitative spirit of the community. It helps to bring in some numbers to back up your points, but it’s also helpful to incorporate stories to increase the sense of community spirit and highlight the unique offerings the community brings.
She then encouraged attendees to use different types of data for different stages and focus on what’s most relevant to the particular executive with whom they will be speaking. She also addressed the importance of using dynamic dashboards to showcase data clearly and explained the importance of providing a one-pager with all relevant information readily available.
The following are some key factors to include in your one-pager:
- Main metrics
- Information on overall participation, engagement, project health, etc.
- What is new or innovative
- What is not working well and the potential root causes
- Opportunities and needs to unlock growth
Including one or two graphics can also increase the one-pager’s effectiveness.
Corina reminded attendees that they must adjust their language and communication style depending on which executive they’re communicating with. You want to choose the language that will spark your executives’ interests.
This does require extra effort on the community leader’s end, but the extra effort will pay off in the long run. It also provides more opportunities to look at the community and its value.
To illustrate the importance of adjusting your language and communication style to different audiences, Corina used the example of her team putting together a Women in Automation event. They needed support from three leaders of three departments: Marketing, HR, and Product.
When addressing the head of Marketing, Corina and her team highlighted the benefits of the event for brand awareness and getting customers to participate. When addressing HR, they focused on getting employees involved, encouraging mentorship, getting to know the community, and building the company’s employer brand. Lastly, when addressing the Product head, they talked about what attendees would learn from a technical perspective, products that would be used, and opportunities for technical mentorship.
In each of these situations, the team had the same mission. However, they approached it from different angles to increase their chances of success.
Let Talkbase help with the data
Having access to the data and being able to put it into a consumable and executive-friendly summary is a key item to getting executive support. With Talkbase Analytics, you can easily create readable dashboards to show the value that community brings across the business. For more information on Talkbase Analytics, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 16, 2023
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