What does it take to be ‘good’ at Community Engagement?

What does it take to be ‘good’ at Community Engagement?

Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about what it takes to be ‘good’ at community and stakeholder engagement.

This has come after a conversation with a friend, where we discussed someone who was appointed to an engagement leadership role a bit out of left field.

“It’s a good outcome she just get’s it”, my friend said.  “She does, she get’s ‘it’” I agreed.

But it does raise the question…what is ‘it’

My friend and I seemed to have a complete understanding of what we were referring to and this is a line I have
definitely both said, and heard before ‘she/he get’s ‘it’.

But now I’m wondering … can I articulate ‘it’? And does anyone else have this experience of referring to ‘it’ and how would you describe ‘it’?

Mindset is the first thing that comes to my mind as part of the makeup of ‘it’.

I’m a big believer in finding the right mindset and therefore knowing you have someone who is/will be good at community and stakeholder engagement. Or someone who will support community
engagement practice in an organisation.

Pondering this led me to think about recruitment and what I have looked for when hiring someone for engagement roles. Maybe this will help define what ‘it’ is…

When recruiting, I really don’t care if people had done IAP2 training or any other type of engagement based training when they come my way. I don’t care what education background they
come from – I have worked with great engagement specialists with no degree,
science degrees, engineering degrees, education degrees and all sorts of backgrounds.

Here are the traits I do look for:

1. Mindset – mainly the belief in the wisdom of the crowd and that people have the ability and right to participate. An outlook with innovation and bravery at its core is also something I look for.

2. Experience in working with people in a variety of capacities.

3. A strategic thinker

4. A leader (all levels I look for this – if you are in an engagement role you are a leader)

If I get the person with all the stuff above the rest of it can be learned  (and then you get the great
moment when they come back from IAP2 training and say something along the lines of… ‘That was great… that brought so much together for me … ).

I feel these are also the traits that will help people in non-engagement specialist roles be early adopters and quick learners when it comes to initiating, supporting and participating in
engagement processes.

However, does this also raise the issue that some people just don’t get ‘it’? And for them what capability programs or experiences do they need to get ‘it’?

Anyone got any other thought on what the ‘it’ is ?

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