Selecting talented people with the right attitude, and letting them work in a positive environment contributes to a thriving radio station.
Following our interview with Peter Yiamarelos on programming strategies and tactics, he was kind enough to write a guest post on how to manage a successful radio station team. Lining up many skilled people is not enough. You want to choose those who have the right mindset; feel connected to more than just their job description. “Keep an ear out for people using the phrase: It’s not my job.”
“Don’t assume successful radio stations simply have the best Music, Mornings & Marketing”
Combine mission and money
I’ve been lucky to work with some of the most talented people in radio, both on and off air, over the last 20 years. Across European countries and in Australia, I have been managed by and have managed people with very different personalities and styles of communication. Despite their differences, they all have one goal, which is to create great radio, great ratings and great revenue – make a real difference to society, and make lots of money in the process. However, there is one thing that radio needs to really function properly, and which is just as important as paying the bills to keep the lights on.
Teamwork is really essential. I’m not just talking about bonding on weekends with the boss by climbing a mountain together. While that has its benefits, I’m referring to something I’ve seen many times and have been part of over many years, and that is the attitude of the staff of a successful station. You want to have ‘the mindset on the road to succes’, as I like to call it. This mentality is fascinating – not just to be part of, but also to observe in action.
Create a positive mood
Don’t assume successful radio stations simply have the best music, mornings & marketing, like the most expensive music research, the most controversial breakfast show or the most spectacular prize giveaways. The main attribute of a winning radio station is that staff members treat each other well. If you were to walk through the studio as a guest, here are some observations you should keep an eye and ear out for:
- Do you feel a positive vibe?
- Are people smiling and laughing?
- Are they saying ‘thank you’ for help?
- Are they saying ‘yes’ rather than ‘no’?
- Are they making noise rather than being quiet?
- Are they moving around rather than sitting still?
- Are they talking about anything other than work?
“This final 5% can make all the difference”
Think beyond personal responsibility
Being treated well generates ‘happiness’ and is one of the greatest inspirations for creating great content. However, there can be issues within individual departments. Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan. Tensions do rise, and tempers do flare. Resolving these issues depends on the ability to get through it and live to fight another day. Staff attitude is something to watch out for. In particular, keep an ear out for those using the phrase: “It’s not my job”. It’s essentially a territorial thing, where one doesn’t want to encroach on another persons ‘area of expertise’ or department. This ‘out of respect’ idea comes from a supposed fear that the boss may notice it, and will make the other person’s job redundant (or simply fire them). While that’s all well and good, there are several issues that come from allowing this way of thinking to flourish.
If you only promote unity through words like ‘we’re a team, working together to achieve the same goal’, you’re encouraging each staff member to focus on their own back yard and to take a view that ‘when I take care of my personal responsibilities, the rest will take care of itself. Our team will unite and work smoothly.’ Working as a team is manager’s talk for making sure that everyone gets along. But is it also the most productive approach?
Run the extra mile
Firstly, when people do this and ‘get along’, they tend to focus on their own work, thus avoiding any conflict and interaction with each other, stifling the sharing of ideas. Secondly, radio is a moving beast with many parts that cannot function without ‘conflict’. I’m talking about a healthy form of conflict that promotes new ideas and steps through compromise, so this is not arguing or yelling. Some radio managers fail to realize that their staff doesn’t look after the remaining 5% anymore, because of this traditional interpretation of ‘teamwork’. This final 5% can make all the difference, like in an imaginary factory where the final step is for someone to put the price on the box, pack the box and post it to the customer. But the person who’s doing the packaging may make an occasional mistake.
“Define the true meaning of unity and teamwork”
Give colleagues constructive feedback
When something doesn’t go as planned (at all), then the rest of team really needs to say something in a constructive way. Team members need to keep an eye on each other at all times, and should not be afraid to speak up when they see a mistake (that is about to happen). As a manager, when there had been a situation on or off air, I used to ask: “Why didn’t you say something before? Then we could have avoided this.” Often, the reply would be: “It’s not my job”. True, but can you imagine if everyone, including surgeons or pilots, thought this way? Society would collapse. This mindset should be eliminated. Team members should be allowed to speak out without fear of one encroaching on someone else’s territory. It helps to define the true meaning of ‘unity’ and ‘teamwork’, and is easy to implement and monitor. This more open approach can be the basis of a truly successful radio station!
Peter Yiamarelos has launched, managed and acquired radio stations in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and the Netherlands for SBS Broadcasting, and was Group Program Director of the Australian Radio Network ARN. Peter currently works for Southern Cross Austereo as Group Content Director for the Central Coast radio operation. You can follow him @peteryiamarelos, and read our interview with him here.