Managers often have done the work that the people they manage now do. That previous experience allows them to relate to and guide their employees, while being able to keep their eye on the overarching vision behind the work as the team together work towards that larger end goal. In my case, that works well with the editors since I'm able to guide them as they begin with us. Since I continue to edit our content from time to time, particularly when the material is lengthier or more abstract, I am always finding new ways of doing things faster or easier. Therefore, I never really am out of touch on that aspect.
However, it's a different process when you're managing someone where you don't understand or know much about the subject or expertise they bring to the table. AJ, Jesse, and I all have someone like this on each of our teams: our financial and policy analyst (Sabrina), web and graphic designer (Kaitlin), and SEO (search engine optimization) analyst (Jeff) respectively all bring each of us some expertise that we each need to make sure that .
Generally, I'm trying to adopt a different approach to management by looking at it as mentoring and vision rather than making it mostly about direction and tasks. So whereas I take a mentoring approach with many of the editors, I look to Jeff to act as my consultant on SEO - because I know that he has a deeper understanding about this area than I do. He helps me learn about what SEO is about – basically marketing the content online – and I get to ask him any questions I have about what SEO rules work for our content at SoJo. True, sometimes some best practices in SEO might not clash with best practices in other areas like content or social media. However, Jeff helps provide all the possible options and then we can see what works best for us by looking at which options along the spectrum align with our goals and values.
Without doubt, one should treat all employees with the same amount of respect and empowerment. However, it is absolutely necessary in these cases to provide that kind of autonomy and independence to do the work at hand – if you don’t know anything about that topic, you can’t provide too much input without a bit of learning first. This then provides both me personally and SoJo as an organization to really learn from each of its employees – especially the smart ones like Jeff.