Don’t be a Hat Rack!!! CMGR and Too Many Hats!

November 5, 2015 — by Patrick Hellen0



Don’t be a Hat Rack!!! CMGR and Too Many Hats!

November 5, 2015 — by Patrick Hellen0

Don't be a Hat Rack!!! CMGR and Too Many Hats!I’m pretty sure if you wanted to create the ideal career post for Community Management, the term Too Many Hats, would be ideal.

For instance,  I balance life, a family, and my day job as a Community Director, a side gig writing comic book reviews, multiple volunteer gigs (like writing these blogs), and still try to find time to read 100 books a year (best goal EVER), grow a creepy mustache for Movember, and play enough video games to make my eyes cross.

When I’m done with all that? I sleep.

The item I took away from this #CMGRHangout, is based around questions 3 and 4 – i.e. Saying No and Delegating Stuff and Things, and my own personal pet peeve – open office plans.

Let me explain.

As someone focused on social media and community engagement, there’s many hats built into my day job alone, so when something else is brought to my attention, or potentially added to my plate, there’s a real critical discussion that goes on to determine if it’s going to be feasible, or cause something else to suffer.

Now, as I work mostly in start-ups, piling forty responsibilities onto your plate is the norm, but at some point a good and clear push back against the tide is not only good for your career, but it’s also good for the company! If you’re running multiple social networks, sharing out content, creating content, etc, and someone asks you to take on just one more project—well, which of the existing responsibilities are they willing to see suffer in exchange? There’s only so many hours in the day, and if you’re working a full 8-9 hours, and then logging back on from your couch at home, something is wrong.

Margot Mazur identifies a great way to push back, in a collaborative way—by helping to identify who can say yes, when you should say no, and Nicole Relyea discusses the concept of flagging backups, who are available to step in when you need to take a day, or god forbid, a week off to actually reconnect with existence. I’m going to give Brian Fanzo the golden comment award with “Saying yes to something is saying no to yourself,” as a quick and handy shorthand to weigh your own to-do list against everyone else’s.

I’d like to add my own rant here, which I teased above, about the annoyance that is the open office concept. Love them or hate them, I find that the “hey, can you help me real quick with …” discussion becomes so much more widespread in these types of environments, which leads to everyone being involved in everything in earshot. Suddenly you’re wearing a sales hat, an engineering one, and your worry list has grown more and more. If you didn’t hear a discussion, or weren’t involved, would it actually cause the project to suffer? Probably not, but with you included, everyone else’s workload goes down a bit, and you’re finding yourself on that couch at 11pm, updating something.

My own power move, that my boss has endorsed is the headphone rule. Headphones in = working, do not disturb. It’s a way of saying no, without saying no. It keeps responsibility creep from becoming too widespread, and lets everyone have a moment to just get things done.

If you work in a home office? Well I’m jealous.

Finally, the only other bit of advice/suggestion I’d throw you dear readers way, is do what every single article of all time on productivity has told you, and turn off email notifications, and ignore it as much as you can during the day. Set time, and schedule email moments, or else everyone will start using you as their hat rack, because the send and forget mentality of delegation is only getting worse as email becomes more to-do list than communication method.

Patrick Hellen

Director of Community at Deep Information Sciences, Inc.
Patrick Hellen is a large collection of adjectives, in the shape of a lanky, bearded, and bespectacled fellow. He's been a lumberjack, a restaurant writer, a published author, a sales guy, a book seller, a church janitor, a tour guide, and most recently, a community manager and a Dad. He reads nearly constantly, tells loud boisterous stories for as many people as will listen, eats food like it's his last day on earth, and still collects comic books and video games. Until he decides to sit down and write another book, you'll have to find his inane ramblings on Twitter at @PatrickCH.