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Mastering Resource Advocacy in Online Community Management


StevenM

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Ronja was a senior sales manager at a rapidly growing SaaS company. Her transition from direct sales to sales enablement brought new challenges, requiring more sophisticated technology and a bigger team. Despite her technical acumen, Ronja found herself struggling with a crucial aspect of leadership: negotiating for resources.

The Dilemma of Resource Negotiation

Ronja's situation is common in the online community management space. Managers, despite being proficient in their domains, often feel ill-equipped when it comes to "influencing up" or persuading higher-ups for additional resources. The dilemma lies in balancing the need for resources with the desire to maintain a reputation as a competent, resourceful leader.

Strategies for Successful Advocacy

Based on Ronja's experience and broader leadership coaching principles, here are strategies for online community managers to effectively advocate for resources:

  • Show the Money: Demonstrate how additional resources can lead to tangible benefits for the community. For Ronja, showing how delays in feature releases cost the company money, and how understaffing affected customer satisfaction scores, made a compelling case.
  • Align with Organizational Vision: Link your request to the broader goals of the community or company. Ronja successfully argued that new software would enhance customer experience, aligning with the company’s focus.
  • Present Solutions, Not Problems: Instead of simply highlighting needs, propose actionable solutions. Suggest cost-effective alternatives or phased implementations to show your problem-solving skills.
  • Make Your Intentions Clear: Emphasize that your advocacy is for the community's success, not personal gain. Suggesting flexible or alternative solutions can demonstrate your commitment to finding a win-win outcome.
  • Demonstrate Past Success: Use previous successes as proof of your ability to utilize resources effectively. Ronja cited her success with a CRM system implementation as evidence of her judicious use of resources.
  • Highlight the Cost of Inaction: Explain the potential negative consequences of not investing in resources. This approach leverages the decision-making bias towards avoiding losses.

The Impact of Effective Advocacy

Advocating for resources is more than just securing a “yes” from executives; it's about showing commitment to your team's success and ensuring that the community can innovate and deliver quality results. It’s about understanding the challenges faced by your team and taking proactive steps to address them.

In Ronja's case, her approach not only led to the acquisition of necessary resources but also reinforced her leadership qualities. She demonstrated a deep understanding of her team's needs and the strategic vision of the company, all while positioning herself as a thoughtful, effective leader.

Conclusion

For managers in online communities, navigating the complexities of resource negotiation requires a blend of strategic thinking, understanding of organizational dynamics, and the ability to present compelling, data-backed arguments. By adopting these strategies, leaders can secure the resources their teams need to thrive in the competitive digital landscape.


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