Is community management becoming the key management skill?

I posted during the summer about news that some 69% of companies are planning, or already have, a community manager in place.  Whilst this is undoubtebly good news for those of us in the profession I suspect that the majority of these individuals will have outward facing roles.  They'll be charged with dealing with their employers social media or running the communities housed on their own websites.

An enlightened minority might employ such individuals to manage internal communities, to attempt to solicit and cajole knowledge from peoples heads and make it available to all.  These individuals will manage internal talent communities aimed at getting the best from each employee.

I'm wondering however if a further shift is not in the pipeline.  In Future Work Alison Maitland and Peter Thomson talk about the growing popularity of flexible working, with an ever increasing cohort of employees working from home.  This army of knowledge workers would engage and interact with each other using many of the same social media tools that are commonplace in outward facing initiatives.  They propose that the role of the manager in such a scenario will be to encourage those remote workers to share their work and their knowledge, to make them feel part of the team even when working remotely.

In other words to do many of the things that us community managers do on a daily basis.  So my question to you, good readers of this blog, is community management set to be the key skill of the next decade?


13 thoughts on “Is community management becoming the key management skill?

  1. Must say I'd never thought about it like that. Kinda makes a lot of sense though as we a) need to get people talking to each other more, and b) will be using social media tools to do so.

  2. I think many of the skills used by community managers are going to be the skills needed by managers in the future, so yes I think there will be a large amount of crossover involved.

  3. People have been working remotely for 2 decades now – especially in the software/tech world, so I'm not sure where the big news is. For companies it's much less costly to provision employees at home I would imagine. In the CM roles though, it's all about people skills and, unfortunately most of the time, political ones because you're "the odd guy/gal out" – In that case, I don't know if it's better to be remote or in the midst of it all come to think of it 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment Jerome (you'll have to imagine my excitement, as a cycling fan, when I got the email telling me that Jerome Pineau had left a comment – alas you're not the pro cyclist of that name 🙂 )

      You're quite right that flexible working is not a new thing, yet it does remain a minority activity in many offices. The traditional CM skills of making everyone feel welcome and valued probably answers that issue of remote workers being left out in the cold though.

  4. Peter Drucker (RIP) said that "community building talent is the most precious resource in the modern world". I happen to believe him and I think community management as you say will be the key skill of the 21st century.

    You'll be surprised how much change is happening in large organisations in terms of replacing email (which is broken) with social tools as the default way of communicating. This market is called 'social business' and it's exploding. Interestingly all the big software vendors (Microsoft, Jive, IBM, Cisco) all know they can't sell their products without the skills of community managers. They see 'adoption' (community building) as the single most important factor in selling their software. But they are all useless at it, often by their own admission.

    I can't begin to tell you the insights I've had leading a pilot to explore the benefits of 'going social inside' at Virgin Media. But one thing's for sure community management is THE key skill to make this transition successful. Flexible Working is BIG.

    Drucker also said; "New ways of working with people at arm's length will increasingly become the central managerial issue of employing organisations, and not just of businesses."

    Hopefully some of you will get time to watch this 60 sec video on what we've been up to at Virgin Media on Flexible Working. It won't be up there for long!



  5. Hi, Community building and management is not only a imperative in modern leadership, it is also speeding up innovation and make the solutions much better. Community management is a integral part of open source leadership.


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