A community of technology community managers, leaders, and builders.

Keynote 2016 by Josh Simmons: Occupational Hazard

At Google now, former community manager for OSCon.

Job is difficult, multi-disciplinary. Burn-out is a risk. Can be punctuated by crises.

Can make changes that anger communities: dropping features, changing road-maps, or just not in tune with community members’ world view.

Crisis management and self care in the wake of hard times

Always remember whom you’re representing: you wear the company’s hat. You are empowering your team to solve problems. Should have plans in place for crisis management, have resources for navigating a crisis. Resources you can point public to.

Early monitoring: watch forums where you can see whether a crisis is coming.

Company policies, core value, code of conduct can guide you, should have resources in place to cope with a crisis.


Remember your chain of command. Know who can respond; you are probably not the person in control within the organization.

Don’t be silent. Let me people know they’re heard.

The statement you make is very important and subtle. If it includes an apology, craft it carefully. Have a narrative, because people are story-telling animals.

But a statement is not enough. Also do personal outreach, such as to corporate sponsors.


Support staff: divide up jobs, but consider rotating so a single person isn’t constantly doing emotionally difficult work.

Don’t lose perspective and a sense of proportion. Don’t broadcast your concern any further than necessary.

Treat yourself well to cut down stress that makes you less effective. Don’t wait till you are feeling really bad. Mindfulness and meditation are valuable: breathe. Be aware of how you feel and keep some mental distance.

Let go of the narrative: you are not your job. Unplug, use airplane mode, spend times with friends and family. Withdrawal is one of the worst things you can do when things get bad.

Counselors and therapists are awesome, whether or not you have mental health issues.

Your job is to be proactive and respond. Be prepared. Make sure you have a crisis management plan in place, know your organization’s hierarchy. You need to navigate internally as well as externally.

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