Travelling around the country delivering the Village Manager Professional Development Program, I was asked by a program participant an interesting question that I didn’t have the total answer for.
You see she was relatively new into her role (around 9 months) and she described to me that she had been employed as the Community Manager.
She shared what excited her most about the role was the chance to give back, to make a difference, to facilitate information or activities to provide choices to residents to live “their best life”.
And her job description also had resident welfare and the building of community, but also the typical variety of responsibilities – from managing budgets to maintaining assets.
Where is the time for ‘community’?
Yet now she has been in the role some months she is finding that she rarely has time to focus on these very aspects of community building that excited her so much.
She feels she has become a Facility Manager. She asked me: how do I find time for the residents?
I guess there are two aspects to this in my experience.
The first is that even by coordinating the maintenance, garden, budgeting and cleaning etc, she is still actively contributing to the service provision for residents that was promised to them.
However, secondly, it is up to her to prioritise these functions to create time for community building.
My advice is to start small. Remember, an ‘event’ only requires two people – that is two people achieving enjoyment out of interacting with each other (including you – who is equally important).
- Make a list of the easy things that you can do that are ‘building blocks’ to creating and maintaining community
- Place the easier ones that take the least time at the top
- Check the activities calendar for holes or things that are already being addressed
- Check if there are any obvious volunteers in the village that you can rely on
Now allocate even just one hour a week to your list – and I have found it is good to alternate the activities. Here are some suggestions:
- Conduct two resident check-in discussions
- Visiting a resident that may have experienced a life changing incident recently
- Attend a resident function
- Research and communicate activities occurring in the local community
- Plan a social event or activity
- Organise a guest speaker of interest
I guess the message is that, just like allocating time to the compliance and service provision role of being a Village Manager, we need to make a conscious effort to allocate specific time to the building of ‘community’.
This is time allocated for us – making sure we get fulfilment out of our role; because it is a 100% certainty that the village residents will greatly benefit from our positive enthusiasm to contribute to their ‘community’.
After all, we are not facility managers – we are community builders.