Saturday, November 1, 2008

House of Mirrors -- Framing employee interaction in the community

The last myth to be explored in this section is one that frames employee interaction with the community. In many instances employees consider themselves set apart from the members in some way. Instead of being an integral part of the community, staff may mistakenly assume the following traits are the norm.
  1. Staff knows more than the members do about how to run a successful platform
  2. Staff has the final word on every decision and ultimately the employee's role is one of authority, not one of listener or facilitator.

Viewing the employee's role in the forum is particularly difficult to do because it often spans the gap between the corporate entity and the members. Employees are often privy to confidential information which drives internal decision making but cannot be discussed in a public venue. Conversely, members may view a friendly staff member as a conduit to the insider knowledge they desire. Members may also try to manipulate staff into revealing confidential information about other members or to involve staff in interpersonal conflict.

Members may implement a variety of strategies ranging from intimidation to granting star qualities on a particular employee to achieve their goals. As a result employees may experience a gamut of emotions that range from being flattered to feelings of rejection when the community works to finesse the outcome. It usually takes serious self reflection to appreciate how the community functions and our unique role within it.

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