I have been writing for ProgrammableWeb for slightly over 2 years now and it has been one of the best experiences of my professional career. My primary point of contact has been Adam DuVander, Executive Editor @ ProgrammableWeb. While I might have contributed a number of articles to ProgrammableWeb, Adam has been instrumental in many ways than one to help me succeed. Right from sourcing topics to write about, editing my content, giving it beautiful headlines and many more such activities, Adam has taught me a lot of things.
When I look at the activities and the manner in which Adam has helped me execute my task for contributing articles, several management techniques come to play and central to them has been the way they have got executed. I hope that the practical examples that I provide help highlight what I have learn about Management from Adam DuVander.
Here are the list of items (in no particular order):
- Availability : Adam is always available whenever I have sent him an email. The email could be a point I was trying to make, a question, asking for help or just about what he thought about something unrelated at times. Every single time, I have received a reply from him. The reply is short, to the point and helps me move forward. If Adam is unavailable for a certain period i.e. vacation or conference trip, on most occasions I am aware of that and can plan my tasks accordingly.
- Quality: Any manager will quickly lose respect if he/she is not able to guide the folks working under them. I am not an expert writer and have a tough time with giving good titles to my posts. At times, it is about having the right mix of images/text and links to make the article better. Adam has always given those inputs, done the corrections at times and in my book, he is the master of “giving titles to your posts”. The point I am trying to make is that Adam is a hands-on editor, who cares for quality, can produce quality stuff and can jump in to give the extra stuff that your work needs to stand up well.
- Opportunities: It is often said that a leader is only as good as the team he/she leads. If the team does more stuff and does it well, it is bound to end up being good for everyone. Writing can sometimes be a boring task and often you want to probably look at different areas or styles to keep the interest going. Adam on various occasions sort of preempts this and there will usually be an email or a message that asks if I could do something more i.e. write more. It is not about doing a job anymore but about discovering what more we can possibly do or could we do something in a different way that could help us write more. Adam has always provided those opportunities and has also been receptive if I have asked about doing a particular article or not ?
- The Feedback Loop:Any management book that you read reminds you that receiving feedback on how you are doing is important? What you do with that is another whole issue in itself. But how often have we found that we usually do not get feedback on a constant basis from our managers. Adam has on many occasions given feedback on a particular article. The feedback could be just a comment about the article being good, etc but at times also about what could be changed or what should be considered the next time around.
- Flexibility: There have been various instances where I have not been regular in writing. On other occasions, it has been due to some event or a holiday,etc that interferes with my writing schedule. On most occasions, I have asked to be excused from writing for a particular week or due to my planned break. Adam has been extremely flexible and has allowed me to do so. My sense is that Adam has got control over the tasks that his team has to deliver and is accounting for some lapses from his writers in the form of breaks. In essence, working with a manager who is flexible when there are reasonable requests from people who are working with him is crucial. Adam has not just demonstrated being flexible but also extremely patient with requests of this nature.
- Diversity: We live in an age where the team comprises of people who are living in different countries, time zones, cultural differences and much more. A good manager has to deal with diversity in this age. Adam has been able to work the time zones and get work done by people in spite of the fact that he has probably never met the person. An example is me. We have never met (hopefully we will someday) but it is very reassuring that when the goals and interests are clear to all, a good manager is able to cross all those hurdles, code named as “diversity” and help us all deliver.
- Multiple Hats:Close on the heels of the above point, a good manager has to wear multiple hats. I am not an editor of any online or print magazine but I can only imagine the different roles that Adam has to play. Work with writers, schedule articles, work with PR agencies, Product companies, visit conferences, speak at conferences, administrative issues, payment issues and more. Only Adam knows how many other tasks he does to keep the ball rolling in his role but the point here is that you have to play multiple roles and have to deal with people. I will not be surprised if my statement that “you have to be a people’s person” to succeed as a manager is spot on. Adam is proof of that.
- Micro Management: A manager has to focus on the high level objectives and full trust that the team he has with him, knows how to do their respective tasks. In other words, if the manager tries to micro-manage too much in such a scenario, then things are likely to derail. Adam has full trust in his writers and gives them enough confidence that they can deliver. He also assigns the task of co-ordination to different people as needed so that he does not become the bottleneck. Over time, it becomes clear to all the team members what they are supposed to do and he can concentrate on his high level goal of delivering a good number of quality articles that cover the exciting API industry.
I hope some of the practical examples I have given here help drive home some important Management techniques and how they work in the real world. A big thank you to John Musser, founder @ ProgrammableWeb for giving me the opportunity in the first place and to Adam DuVander for such great mentorship over the last couple of years.