The Bigger Picture: Has The Team Checked Out?

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “The Bigger Picture” series, written by Charese Fruge on November 2, 2021 

Well, it’s official! According to Mariah Carey, it’s time for Christmas. She confirmed on her Instagram account when she smashed the middle pumpkin with the word “Not” on it today (November 1st). Three pumpkins, one word each. The message started out as “It’s not time.” Now it says, “It’s Time!” And while most of the world has been trying to check out of 2021 since it started this year, Mariah’s message just made it that much easier. Especially in the Broadcast business as stations begin flipping to All-Christmas formats already, and employees start thinking about the solid two weeks of downtime that come every year at this time. Whether you have to work or not, the world shuts down for the last two weeks of the year, and everyone seems to think (or act like) people stop listening to the radio during this time.

There is no doubt, 2021 has been a tough one, and with it came format flips, consolidation, layoffs, budget cuts, lack of communication, anxiety, depression and all the other things that come with a year and a half of a worldwide pandemic. Everyone has been searching desperately for a little bit of relief, and a way to check out from reality just to try and stay sane. Now that we have the official go ahead from Mariah, it becomes increasingly more challenging to keep our teams motivated to get things done and stay checked in before the “official” holidays kick in.

This is no time to slack or check out. In fact, we’re still in an official ratings window which impacts Q4 revenue. Not only that but this is a critical time to start preparing for everything that happens during that two-week window when no one is in the building, and everything that needs to happen when the broadcast world returns to reality on January 3rd. As we all know, January is one of the most challenging months of the year to try to get listeners and advertisers back into normal patterns. Having a plan in place that kicks off on day one is critical to the momentum and success of your brand for the entire year.

Two weeks ago, in “The Bigger Picture” we provided you with a check list of things to cover now, so you can enjoy the holidays and bounce back prepared. This week, we will work on the here and now: How to keep your team motivated when all they can think about is the holiday vacation, and they are tempted to check out early, when there is still important work to be done to finish out the year with a bang and come back swinging in 2022.

First, you are going to have to make an attempt to check in on them on a regular basis. Whether in the office or not. It all starts at the top, so if you are reaching out to them regularly, it shows that YOU are NOT checked out and “implies” that your normal expectations of them are still in play. Use the checklist in the above-mentioned article and ask them in a productive way how they are progressing with their tasks. The point is not to be annoying or micromanage. The point is to lead by example and give them the impression that you support them and their continued success. Offer your assistance if needed. You should be doing this year-round anyway.

Second, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place for when you come back in Q1 for the brand. Remember, it starts at the top and shit rolls downhill. If you don’t have a plan, you better put one together now, a realistic one. Even if its ratings goals, content strategy and/or events/promotions. If you as the leader do not have your shit together, your team will be discouraged and confused and have no

idea what to work towards. So, ask for their input, put together the strategy, learn to sell it with a great pitch and share it with the team so they feel like a part of the process. The biggest challenge talent has in the industry right now is the lack of communication and support from management. This can cause talent to overthink and panic and that is never a good thing.

And finally, be festive. You may secretly be a “Scrooge,” but that’s your own damn problem. Make a little effort to make your team smile if you can. I’m not saying go out and buy expensive gifts for everyone but hang some Holiday lights in the studio and your office. Throw in some decorations and holiday candy and if it’s appropriate, a Christmas tree and/or Menorah candles. Try to host a little gathering before everyone takes off so you are all in the same room together and throw in some snacks and beverages. Make an effort for your team. Your ultimate goal is that you want your team to want to kill for you. Give them a reason to. After all, their success becomes your success, and if you do it right, the only time they will ever completely check out, is when its actually appropriate.