Tag Archives: managing

Managing Others

Dick Taylor PresentingFor most of my life I was a radio manager. Then I had the opportunity to be a university professor. What those two professions had most in common was the training of others, employees in the work place and students in higher education.

Be the Change

As a parent, I quickly learned that my children didn’t learn as much from what I told them but in observing how I, myself, acted. I credit my mother and father for this form of parenting because that’s how they raised their three boys.

Mahatma Gandhi put it this way:

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

I swear, I didn’t

My oldest son never uttered a single swear word until he went to school. One day when he was helping me work in the yard, he let out a loud curse.

It was then that I said to him, “you may have noticed that your mother and father don’t use those words. Neither do your aunts, uncles and grandparents. Now if you want to talk that way around your friends, that’s your decision, but around your family, please don’t.” He never used that kind of language again – at least around me.

Swearing, Part 2

Years later I would be a radio Market Manager in Iowa with a lot of employees in my stations. Not too long after I had taken over the property, my Operations Manager came into my office and closed the door. (When people close your door behind them, it’s usually not a good sign.)

I said, you look like something’s serious is on your mind. What’s up?

He said, “you’ve made a big impact on the employees of these radio stations. Everyone is afraid to swear around you because you don’t ever swear.”

I laughed.

Then told him that it wasn’t because I didn’t know those words but because I personally chose not to use them, but it didn’t bother me if others did.

He sighed a big sigh of relief and said he would spread the word.

But here’s the interesting result: people continued to very rarely swear at those radio stations.

Starting on Time

In my university classes I set certain standards by my actions. I told students on the first day of class that I would always start my classes on time. That I would be setting up to deliver my lectures about 15-minutes before the start of class and that when it was time to start I would close the classroom door. That closed door was to keep hallway noise out but never students and if for some reason they were running late, they could always enter the classroom, just be courteous of other students. Virtually every student was in class before the start.

Teaching punctuality came by being punctual myself.

Another lesson in punctuality came with turning in assignments by the day and time they were due. I made it very clear that late assignments would not be accepted. Period.

That’s because in the workplace, in life, everything has a deadline.

Picking Up Trash

One time when I was walking through an airport to my plane’s gate, I picked up some paper that was on the floor near a trash receptacle and placed in the can. The person behind me said, “You either own a business or manage one.” To which I smiled and replied, “Guilty.”

Everyone is watching you. Noticing how you act.

Always do the right thing. Always.

Managing Others Begins with You

To be an effective manager of other people, to train them to do things the way you wish to see them done, you must first exhibit those behaviors in the way you live your life.

Nothing is more powerful than being the change you want to see in others.

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What We Have Here, Is a Failure to Embrace Complexity

42The world we live in today is a complex place. The KISS operational style seems like it would be a good idea. (KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid) But maybe not.

Turns out in a complex world, being agile is more importance than being efficient. Being efficient kills innovation. Innovation today is the primary driver of building value and creating value is one of the basic reasons for any organization to exist.

Managing Complexity is a 21st Century Skill

People who can manage complexity will be the leaders of the future. Managing a radio station was complex due to the fact that radio has two customers, which want totally opposite things. One customer is the radio listener. This customer wants information and entertainment. This customer usually isn’t fond of commercials. The other customer is the radio advertiser. Anytime their ad isn’t dominating the airwaves and driving consumers into their store is a moment the radio station isn’t doing its job. To add to this complexity are the talented people needed to service both of these customers. Air personalities that attract listeners and sales folks that service advertisers.

Consolidation & Complexity

As the radio industry began consolidating after the Telcom Act of 1996, the traditional thinking of protecting margins was amplified. This resulted in reducing labor costs. RIFs became commonplace (RIF = Reduction In Force). For those that were left wages became stagnant, little money was invested in training and the number of people left in the workforce was reduced to a bare minimum.

The problem is, when you have low paid, poorly trained and overworked people, your operation lacks new and innovative ideas that can improve the business. When the only ideas that are introduced come from the tippy top, they rarely connect with the challenges seen at the front line.

Zeynep Ton writes in her book The Good Jobs Strategy about a discount retailer that took a different approach to their operation than most companies when the great recession of 2008 struck the world. Rather than cut wages or reduce staff, Ton says they asked their employees to contribute ideas. The result was that this company managed to reduce prices to their customers by ten percent while increasing their market share from 15% to 20% from 2008 to 2012.

Herb Kelleher writes in his book NUTS! about how Southwest Airlines created a culture where employees are treated as the company’s number one asset. Southwest does a number of things to benefit its employees, including such programs as profit-sharing and empowering employees to make decisions. This empowerment during the period when oil prices hit a high of $145 per barrel in 2008 saw the Southwest pilots taking the initiative to plot more efficient flying altitudes and work with ground crews to get in and out of the gates quicker to control the Southwest ticket prices and not lay off any people while maintaining a positive profit margin. These actions did not come from the corporate home office but from employees in the field.

What to Do When You Have Maximized Efficiency

Let’s face it; the ability for any radio operator today to squeeze out any more profit through efficiency is over. Radio consultant George Johns puts it this way: “Radio today is in the no business, it has no money, no time and no people.”

So what’s the answer? Collaboration.

The radio companies of the 21st Century will need to develop the ability to make collaboration a competitive advantage. The game has changed from what you own and control to what you can access. Access happens via platforms. Radio needs to create platforms that bring consumers and producers together, much like the Apple App store does globally, but locally for their service area.

Radio needs to find a way to attract listeners by causing them to be fearful of missing something if they’re not listening while directing them to local places via platforms they control that can fulfill their wants and needs on demand.

In other words, radio needs to “think different.”

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Radio Would Be a Great Business… If It Weren’t For the Employees

21I’m sure the title of this week’s post caught your attention. If you’ve ever been a manager, quite possibly this thought has crossed your mind on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, technology has provided many a radio company the opportunity to give this concept a whirl.

The reality is radio is a people business. Take away the people and do you really have radio anymore?

My best sales people were a pain in the derriere. My best air talents were likewise. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. The fact of the matter is, great talents are always a handful to manage, but they are the engine that creates great radio.

Managing great talent is the art of keeping them from killing one another. Managing great talent is respecting that they are outstanding at what they do and at the same time looking them in the eye and under no uncertain terms letting them know that their talent doesn’t transcend to every other aspect of their life.

Very talented people often think that because they are outstanding in one area, they are in all areas and this is often what leads to their downfall.

Managing great talent is like keeping a nuclear reactor under control. You need to know when to push the control rods in to calm things down and when to pull them out to create a powerful, positive reaction.

Managing great talent will exhaust you. Managing great talent will frustrate you. Managing great talent will challenge you. Managing great talent will be the greatest experience of your life.

I’ve had the honor of running some great radio stations over my radio career and I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some incredibly talented people in every area of radio station operations. I credit my success to them and doing my best to clear the field of obstacles that might prevent them from performing at their highest personal best.

Since I started teaching, I’m finding a similar scenario with students. Great students will get every piece of knowledge they can out of you. They are self-motivated to excel. And yes, they too, can be a handful. But the greatest reward a teacher can experience is having students who want to learn and then apply what they’ve learned to grow and excel at whatever they put their mind too.

Warren Buffett’s “3 Qualities to Look for in Hiring:”

Integrity, Intelligence & Energy.

If you don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.

To sum it all up, the most important thing any business or school can do is pay attention to how it recruits the people it will work with. You can’t teach attitude. You hire attitude. Everything else can be taught.

Radio is a great business if you will do these three things: 1) focus on hiring great employees, 2) make sure everyone is focused on the same goal and 3) let your people know you really care about them.

Just remember, like a high performance automobile will command a lot of attention, the finest race horses will command a lot of attention, so will high performance talent. Anything that performs at the highest levels of its field will command a lot of attention.

If you like winning, then everything it takes to get there will be worth it.

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Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales, Uncategorized