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The Internal Community Manager is dead… Long live the Internal Community Manager!

Let’s imagine management decides radically changing the way employees will be working in the future: no more strict working hours, fixed offices, etc. but management by results, flex-desk and teleworking, an office environment that is facilitating collaborative work with appropriate social technologies, etc. Sounds great, not?

Changing culture = Changing behaviors…

As the manager responsible for this project, you may think that changing employees’ habits will not be that easy… In fact, changing employees’ way of working involves a change in the organization culture. But “Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.” (Frances Hesselbein on “The Key to Cultural Transformation” in Leader to Leader (Spring 1999)) or as our own Christian DE NEEF once said on Twitter: “culture doesn’t DO anything. Culture is a RESULT”

Culture doesn't lead; culture follows
Culture doesn’t lead; culture follows

So what do we need to make this (behavior & culture) change happen?

Internal Community Managers

Internal Community Managers have a critical role to play in culture transformation as they are the interface between the organization and employees. Their work is to change/influence the behavior of every single employee inside the organization. And as we all know it now, “we can’t change all employees’ behaviors at once… the best Internal Community Managers can do is to change one person’s behavior at a time” (Rachel Rappe interviewed by FastTrack at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris). Even if it’s a hard work, it’s a more sustainable way of achieving culture transformation. But… you may ask yourself, how do we change employees’ behaviors?

The Community Manager’s role in change…

This involves remaining alert to every single emergent change habit and encouraging and rewarding employees as change happens. This is a job that takes a lot of energy, which is why we need Internal Community Managers to get things done. They also have to be capable of reporting, talking to both IT and business teams, developing communication and training, etc.

Community Management is about “getting what you want accomplished without telling people what to do” by pushing “responsibility and opportunity down to the individual level” (Rachel Happe interviewed by Rogier Noort). Organizations have to combine top-down and bottom-up approaches – top-down in launching New Ways of Working initiatives and showing the way to follow; bottom-up allowing every individual to take ownership of the change. If we take the time to co-create this change with employees and make them feel engaged, they will be more supportive and help us spread the words for change!

At FastTrack we think that Internal Community Managers should not only be a new role in organization, but a new skill for change managers. The Internal Community Manager, as a distinct function in the organization, may not be sustainable. But community management, as a role to be taken by change managers, certainly is a requirement for sustainable culture change! — @SylvieDbg

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