Behind Bzp - Assigning Staff
Staff Behind BZP
I like how you tried to set me up for a nice Behind BZP there. Unfortunately, we outline that process very well right here in the Staff Information topic. That doesn't mean I can't use it as a springboard though.
Just got one question for you today:
What's the step-by-step process behind hiring new staff?
Want to see your questions answered? PM them to me and put 'Mailbag' in the subject line.
So once a potential staff member is selected, how do we know where to put them? There's actually a number of things that go into the process.
First is the team they should be on - forums, blogs, news, or reference. For the latter two we usually pick out people we think would be good fits there. For Reporters we find people that write a lot, either in the blogs or the Library or just in a lot of topics. Reference Keepers need to be people who are very passionate about the story. Forum and Blog staff, however, are very similar in a lot of areas. They need to be helpful, courteous, respectful, and show a good understanding of the rules. Most times we pick someone with one team or the other in mind, but occasionally we give them the choice. Generally the deciding factor is where the member is more active, since that indicates which part of the site they like more.
For forum staff (aside from Mentors), there's then another level of assignment - which forums should they be helping out in? If we've recently had a staff member retire, there are obvious gaps we're looking to fill, but sometimes we're just looking to beef up our numbers a bit.
I'll start off by asking the Forum Assistant or Leader where they'd like to be. I don't want to assign someone to a forum they're not going to enjoy - it's happened in the past and usually doesn't turn out well. I also keep a giant spreadsheet: there's a column for every forum and a row for every forum staff member. I use it to not only keep track of assignments but also to gather some statistics to help figure out who should go where.
Each forum obviously needs at least one Forum Leader - more active forums can get two or more. Some less active ones have them too by virtue of an Assistant getting promoted to Leader and not wanting to leave where they had been assigned. The majority of forums also have Assistants. My spreadsheet calculates the Assistant-to-Leader ratio, which ideally I'd like to be at 2 or greater, but that doesn't always happen. It should always be at least 1 though. In addition to that ratio I also look at the total number of staff in the forum. I've also recently begun keeping track of forum activity in terms of page views to get an idea of which forums are the most active and consequently should have more staff.
Once I figure out which forums need staff, I need to figure out who to put where. The spreadsheet also calculates how many forums each staff member is assigned to and the average number of forums per Leader and Assistant. I try to keep these as low as possible because we obviously don't want people getting overwhelmed. Invariably though I see a few staff members asking for more work, so they'll have more assignments than most. Every now and then I'll shift people around though, just to even things out.
Every time a staff member joins or leaves the team, I make a new page in the spreadsheet and update it. This lets me keep a record of the staff changes, so I can go back and look at how things have been trending over time.
So I doubt that was nearly as exciting as recording the Powercast, but I wanted to share it anyway. As always, if you have an idea for something I can talk about, let me know!