This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Consultant Tips” series, written by Charese Fruge on September 24, 2019
I just read the results of the Jacobs Media and Don Anthony study in Radio Ink which revealed that only 19% of all talent believe that they get support from upper management. Only 14% believe they get support from corporate. Radio Ink attributed those statistics, in part, due to the downsizing and budget cuts in most of the bigger radio companies. The recommendations from Jacobs and Anthony to make talent feel more secure? “Have management show a little more love, spend time and effort growing new talent, help younger members of staff financially, and support women on the programming side.” It’s difficult to make time to do that these days when programmers and managers are wearing so many hats.
“Fear of the unknown!” It’s the topic of every conversation I have with talent and programmers today. They are scared to death of downsizing. Even the most successful and seasoned talent are afraid they could be fired at any moment. No one is communicating with them; therefore, they do not feel supported. And budgets are being cut left and right, so they don’t feel like they have the resources to be successful.
Let’s be honest, it’s a tough time in our business and it’s also “that time of year.” No communication is the worst possible thing a manager can do to his or her staff. It allows too much time for over thinking and leads people to draw their own conclusions. With talent, that can cause insecurity, frustration, envy, the inability to focus and sadly can create problems that don’t really exist. What you need to understand to stay focused is that this is not something you are going through alone. There are many people in the business right now going through the same thing.
Trust me when I tell you that after twenty plus years in the business, budget cuts, downsizing, mergers, acquisitions etc. are common, especially in the last 10 years. And there is nothing you can do to control the situation, except continue to focus your energy on your success. Do yourself a favor, and talk to your colleagues outside of the building. Don’t reveal anything confidential of course, but I guarantee you will discover that most of them are asking the same questions and have the same concerns. And if management isn’t communicating with you, it’s either because they also aren’t being communicated with or they’ve been tasked with making some very difficult decisions.
If YOU are in management and you are any good at what you do, you know it all starts at the top. So do your best to communicate with your staff as much as you can and support them in any way possible.
- Have regular meetings with them so they feel included and up to date.
- Give them resources to succeed. You may need to get creative because of a lack of budgets, but chances are your staff already has some great ideas. At least take a moment to hear them out.
- And keep them updated on their performance and ratings. They need to know where they stand and shoot for goals, so that they have something to work for.
The job of a good manager is to be a leader and to create an inclusive, productive environment, especially when things get tough. You also need to recognize when your team members need you. The days of wearing many hats are here, but you must make time to communicate. How many times do you hear someone say, “we are in the communications business, and nobody knows how to communicate?” It’s true, but we must change that if we are going to succeed.
And if you are in a situation where you are nervous about your job, or are not being communicated with, keep calm and trust yourself. Again, there are some things we can’t control. But you can stay focused, continue to grow your brand and be a student of radio so that you are prepared for whatever comes next. You must trust that it will all work out for the best. Another of my favorite radio quotes is “You haven’t made it in radio until you’ve been fired.” And how many times does that happen and the ratings come out the next day and they were through the roof? It’s truly ironic, but it happens all the time. And you must keep in mind that at some point in life that it happens to everyone. The key is to stay focused, humble and passionate about what you love. You may have to focus on your side hustle for a minute also, but those are the things that are going to help you transition to the next best thing for you.