Sunday, January 01, 2006

10 Tips for the Successful Web Manager

  1. You must have vision. You must know and understand your audience and be able to envision the possibilities for serving them online, so you can guide the agency. You must be able to take in new information constantly and see connections. Guess at the future. Connect the dots. Look for opportunities to collaborate and coordinate with others outside your organization toward the greater good.
  2. You must be a highly skilled leader. Most web managers have no official “power.” You don’t supervise all the people who contribute to the website. They aren’t accountable to you. So you must gain their cooperation through leadership. It’s not enough to be a good manager – you have to be a great leader. You have to be able to bring people together to eliminate duplication, facilitate coordination and collaboration, and inspire others to follow the direction you set. Above all, you have to stay focused on the overall goals – the future - even when you’re up to your neck in daily problems. Your most important job is to keep your web management organization inspired.
  3. You must be an excellent communicator. You have to be able to tell your organization, your executives, your customers about your vision and the future. You have to keep them informed so they’ll be onboard with your plans. You have to be a superb – I mean exceptional - writer and editor. Not only do you have to understand how to talk to your web readers, you must teach others how to do it.
  4. You must have a positive attitude. If you get down, so will your organization. You have to inspire others. Be a cheerleader. Praise the positive and use the negatives to teach. This is one job in which you really do get more with honey than vinegar.
  5. You must be able to make quick decisions. Web managers make literally hundreds of decisions every week. The web is a fast-moving medium, and you have to keep up with it. So that means you have to be able to analyze issues and problems quickly and make decisions. You have to be able to incorporate both long-term strategies and short-term realities (aka: politics) in your decisions. You won’t always have time to collect all the facts – you have to be confident in your own ability to make the best guess.
  6. You must be a great problem solver (or have one on your immediate staff). This is SO important. Every web manager needs to have someone who is an extraordinary analyst – who can take apart complex problems and figure out solutions. This kind of problem-solving takes time. So if this is your gift – if you are basically a problem-solver – then you need to make sure you have a high level associate who can carry out the more fast-moving web management duties…like stirring the pot and being a cheerleader. If your talents are in the pot-stirrer category – the fast-moving leader – then be very sure you have an excellent problem solver as your right hand.
  7. You must be courageous. This probably should be much higher on this list. Being a web manager is a tough job. You often face people who don’t “get it,” don’t agree, and won’t cooperate. You have to be willing to get out on a limb – try new things because they are the right thing to do for your audience. It’s hard to do the right thing – but it’s an essential part of the job. The public counts on you to be their advocate. So you must be courageous and do what’s right for them.
  8. You must be an entrepreneur. The best web managers are always out there stirring up new business. They don’t sit back and wait for content to come to them – they go out and get it. They are pot-stirrers. They keep things moving. They keep adding to the mix, seizing opportunities whether it’s a good time or not. They constantly scan the agency, spotting problems, sensing the possibilities, and looking for ways to connect issues and solutions. Of course you have too much to do. That goes without saying. If you’re a great web manager, you always have too much on the burner. And you have to tend all of those pots – stirring them when they need it to keep them simmering until it’s time to dish them up and serve them.
  9. You must find a guru – someone outside your organization who inspires you…to whom you can go when you lose your way…who will keep you revved up and who will help you get back on the path, when you falter. You don’t have to know your guru personally. But you need to find someone whose writing inspires you or whose seminars keep you focused on possibilities.
  10. You must take vacations. No – I didn’t put this in just to have 10 points. I put it in because it is absolutely essential to get away from your work, clear your head of the day-to-day problems and grind, and make room for new ideas and thinking. I know web managers who think they are indispensable and who carry their laptops or Blackberries with them so they never leave work behind. I used to do that myself. It’s no good. You have to clear the clutter now and then so you will have better vision. You have to re-charge your batteries so you can lead and stay positive and maintain that vision. Your organization counts on you, and you can’t be your best if you’re tired and overwhelmed. Take vacations regularly.

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