What news teams wish news managers did more

January 10, 2019 11:00

It’s easy to get into a routine as a busy manager, and even if you work to be approachable, it can be intimidating for staff to ask for things from you. Here are some things your team may be wishing for from you.

Provide substantive feedback
Everyone likes to hear a “great job” from time to time, but what reporters, anchors and producers are really looking for is more substantive. What specifically worked and why? Was the writing on that piece particularly effective? Did the pace in that newscast really flow? Providing even just a little more detail with positive feedback can reinforce what’s working, soften constructive feedback and, when offered publically, clue the rest of the team in to things to work on themselves.

Give staff the opportunity to prove themselves
A reporter’s been angling for the opportunity to anchor. Your producer really wants to create a package. An MMJ’s pitches have been getting consistent no’s or assigned to someone else. Think about how often you’re saying no and whether there are more opportunities to say yes, even if it’s a “yes, but...” If someone on your team is passionate enough about something they’re asking about it repeatedly, chances are they’re willing to do what it takes to do that thing well. If they’re really not ready, tell them why and what steps they can take to get there.

Take concerns seriously
Maybe you could brush off that negative viewer comment, not be intimidated by going alone into a late night live shot or confidently tell that coworker to knock off that bullying behavior, but if someone brings an issue to a manager, chances are it’s affecting productivity, and it’s worth taking seriously. Ask questions: What problems is this causing for you? What would make this better? Really listening to complaints, even if the intent is just to vent, creates a culture of openness and trust. Offering strategies and solutions to issues as soon as they arise prevents escalation.

Coach, not just fix
Especially when time is tight (so most of the time), it’s easy to take someone’s work and just fix what needs to be fixed so it can get to air. That solves the immediate problem, but perpetuates the cycle of not-quite-there work that needs fixing. It can be frustrating, too, to see your work torn apart. Taking more time up front to coach (and provide substantive feedback) can help your team learn to do better themselves and save time on fixing later.

Explain why you’re asking for things
Maybe you’ve asked staff to always do something a certain way. To never do something. Required them to wear purple on Thursdays or tweet ten times per day. Have you told them why? Clueing staff into the goal of a directive is your avenue to gaining buy in and more enthusiastic follow through, or even ideas for more or better ways to get to the goal. And if you can’t articulate why you’re asking someone to do something, is it worth doing?

Stay tuned later this month for some things news managers wish their teams did more.