Our goal at Ecanvasser is to get all of our customers to win their campaigns. To that end, our goals are perfectly aligned with the candidate or the cause. Finding the right person to be your campaign manager is central to achieving this goal and we see a couple of traits in campaign managers that seem to always result in success.
The best campaign managers understand that what they are running for is not just a movement or a ‘fight to the death’ ideological battle, but a business, plain and simple. Campaigns are often compared to startups in that they have limited resources, must develop quickly and have to be experts at getting their people to align to their vision.
Tip: If possible find a pragmatic person who is good with figures and has some experience in the world of business as well as campaigning.
Systematic and organized
A recent campaign showed me the way for the systematic organization of a ground game operation. Operating at a national level the campaign manager onboarded 1500 canvassers and delivered training materials to them through Ecanvasser within 24 hours. He then set up provincial caucuses of these team members to identify strongholds and voter targeting protocols. Once this was done he brought through and trained the 5 campaign staff to develop walk lists and assign team tasks.
Tip: Find someone who has a clear vision of the task ahead and how that is going to be achieved. There is time to adjust your campaign as it develops but if it doesn’t have a structure from the start all of the team members will struggle to deliver results.
We can’t emphasize this one enough, lots and lots of people skills. We regularly see campaign managers being replaced mid-campaign leading to panic and confusion for all team members. The feedback we get is that people skills were at the heart of the breakdown in working relations. Managing a very diverse group of people and transmitting a vision to them is far from easy. Egos can be difficult to massage and campaign managers need to continually change tack depending on whether they are speaking to the candidate or a volunteer canvasser.
Tip: Build this requirement into your selection process and make sure it is highlighted as a key performance metric to the campaign manager in advance. In this way you may avoid a messy divorce two weeks before your election day.
We would love for campaign managers to throw their budgets at us but, from a campaign point of view, a little stinginess goes a long way. A Congressional campaign we are working with has knocked on 10,000 doors in the past month with just one paid staff member and a software cost of $99! Managing budget in this way can extract the most from your team members as the campaign manager is forced to motivate them with something other than money.
Tip: Emphasize the importance of budget control on Day 1. It can be more useful as an ideological principle than simply as a money saving exercise.
We make mistakes, I think we can admit that. Our product can fail to sync or throw up a bug from time to time. The campaign managers that cope best with these system failures (and this is purely based on our own observations) also tend to be the ones steering campaigns that go on to win. Focusing on solutions and moving quickly through the problem-solving process is Leadership 101 but it is still nice to see it in action.
Tip: Hire for attitude, not just for skills.
Campaign managers are our heroes. The candidate or the cause may capture the headlines but we see every day how an organized, results focused leader can really change the game for your campaign.
If you would like to learn more about how Ecanvasser can help you, why not take our trial?
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