Most moderators of online communities work for even less than peanuts; the vast majority work for free. As a result, you may find that from time to time your moderators are not as motivated as they used to be; they may be failing to remove certain forum posts, or they may have stopped visiting your community altogether. This article will explain how to keep your moderators motivated.
Even if they are volunteers, they still have obligations
Yes, you should remember that your moderators probably aren’t getting paid for their services. However, this is not an excuse to let them slack off. If you have forum moderators that aren’t pulling their weight, you need to contact them to see what the problem is. If there aren’t any problems, yet your moderator is still noted mainly for his/her absence, then you really should just let them leave.
If members of your online community don’t know the names of some of your moderators, you know that some aren’t pulling their weight! Effective moderators will always be well known within your community.
Make their role clear
If your forum moderators aren’t aware of their exact role or obligations, it is only natural that they will be hesitant in taking action or getting too involved in the community. Just think about the last time you were at school or work and were unsure exactly what was required of you when it came to a specific project. Pretty unmotivating, right? Your forum moderators will feel exactly the same way if they don’t have clear guidelines.
Be an inspiration
As the community developer, it is down to you to inspire your forum moderators. If they don’t see you getting involved and interacting with the community, they may wonder why they are bothering – particularly if they aren’t getting paid.
Not only does witnessing your own behaviour reassure your forum moderators that you are still taking an active interest in the community, it also enables you to lead by example. The more your forum moderators see you undertaking moderation duties yourself, the more they will learn what is and what isn’t acceptable within your community.
Always be approachable
A forum moderator who feels isolated and alone will soon lose motivation. You should always be approachable to your staff, regardless of your position. Even if you have different tiers of moderation staff, those who sit at the bottom of the food chain should still be aware that they can contact you at any time should they ever have any concerns.
If a forum moderators is unsure about a certain aspect of their role, you can clarify things for them before it becomes a bigger issue. A forum moderator who feels ineffective will soon lose motivation.
Involve moderators in your decision making
Are you thinking about updating or modifying part of your website? If so, consult your members AND your staff. If your moderators see you constantly consulting your members but failing to ask them for their opinions, they may end up feeling less important within the community. Not only will asking your moderators for their opinion make them feel more valued, you are also developing a relationship with them. The better the relationship you have with your moderators, the more effective they will be.
Ensure forum moderator positions are highly desirable
Forum moderator positions shouldn’t be given out to every Tom, Dick and Harry. They should be given out only on very rare occasions, and should always be highly desirable. When it comes to moderators for the chat rooms at Just Chat, we reject over 90% of applicants, and only recruit a few times each year. This keeps the positions highly desirable, and ensures we only select the very best people to act as moderators.
Moderators who know their roles are desirable and in high demand are far more likely to remain motivated and hard working as they work to prove themselves and keep their position.
Don’t forget the ego strokes
Do you remember the last time you were told you had done something well? It felt good, right? Your moderators want to be told they are doing well, and will appreciate your reassurance that they are doing a good job. Don’t forget to thank them for what they do every now and again. Even if you don’t pay them, you can keep staff members motivated just by ensuring they are aware that you appreciate what they do.
Send them an email from time to time, send them an ecard or perhaps even a small gift at Christmas time. The gesture will reinvigorate the relationship you have with your staff members.
Choose the right moderators from the start
This point is absolutely key. If you choose the wrong person to be a moderator from the start, it is unlikely you will ever be happy with their performance. You should only choose members who have demonstrated consistent passion, maturity, dedication and commitment to the community over a long period of time.
Passionate forum moderators will always be your best staff members. Those that absolutely love the community will strive to ensure it reaches its full potential. Passion and lack of motivation are exact opposites of the spectrum – choose the right forum moderator from the start and you shouldn’t have any problems motivating them.
How do you keep your staff members motivated? Have you ever had problems with moderators losing interest in their role? How did you overcome this problem? Have I missed out any motivation techniques that you would recommend? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below.