and amongst a folder of ancient station valuation reports, I came
upon a misfiled page from an unknown source listing nine common
mistakes made by executives.
of my “truisms” is that management is not a title but a skill.
Too many people think that because they have been given the authority
to make a decision, they have the ability to make those decisions.
that preamble, let’s get to the list. As Mark Twain said, “Always
acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their
guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.”
SEEING PROBLEMS, NOT GOALS
managers wade into a problem with the focus on what, not who,
is wrong. If you’ve surrounded yourself with competent people, the
culprit for your inefficiency or dilemma likely involves process.
sure your employees know explicitly what is expected of them and the
best ways to accomplish those things. They’ll usually meet you
MISSING THE LONG-TERM PICTURE
“boss” leads staff to get things done right now. The “manager”
knows where he or she is taking everyone in present tense but more
importantly in the future — to that ultimate business destination.
The “owner or the corporate officers” must know what’s over the
horizon for the organization, and have a plan to take everyone to a
successful and growing future.
you have no vision of where your organization must travel to prosper
and grow, your days may be numbered.
OPERATING WITHOUT ROUTINES
found an apropos saying in a fortune cookie: “Every truly great
accomplishment appears at first to be impossible.”
players at two major universities run onto their home fields by
passing under signs that say, “Play like a champion today.” Each
of us should pass onto our business playing field under a sign that
says, “Think quality today.”
in execution is what sets organizations apart, the good and the bad.
Staff needs to know what is expected of them in the way of goals and
deadlines and how best to accomplish this and meet organizational
standards. Quality should be routine.
my radio ownership days, we had manuals for operations at each and
every station, covering contingencies. One was the “shift manual.”
Some employees worked alone outside of office hours, and the “shift
manual” acted as a kind of written supervisor, listing duties,
tasks and details for each shift and work position. It explained how
to get the work done and acted as a security blanket for staff to
know their job expectations.
a person would be put into an odd shift. Because the people who
worked for me were bright and aggressive in wanting to do their best
work, the “shift manual” often was a good substitute for
HOARDING AUTHORITY AND RESPONSIBILITY
style of supervision stifles expeditious execution of work. Staff
cannot do their jobs until you make a decision and/or they cannot
take the responsibility of independent action because that’s your
prerogative. This is like hoarding credit. You let the glory of
success come to you while delegating the onus of blame to your staff
for failures. If you desire a staff to dislike you, this is the best
way to do it.
be effective and celeritous, empower your staff to take ownership of
issues within their job parameters and use their best judgment
LETTING THE GRAPEVINE TAKE OVER
of America’s only remaining manufacturing plants is the gossip
is fact until dispelled; the time your staff spends speculating is
wasted energy. Get the facts out and stay ahead of intrigue. In the
transaction environment of any business or organization, it is also a
matter of respect to share as much accurate information that affects
people as soon as appropriate.
information and the resulting doom-and-gloom environment can cut
deeply into productivity. The best managers want team leaders and
sectional heads to query them when rumors appear, to keep everyone
informed and confident that the status quo, and their position within
KEEPING THE STAFF IN THE DARK
kind of information should you share with staff? Information that you
know for certain and can tell them accurately.
information is sensitive and/or still in development. Occasionally,
information must be kept back temporarily, of course. But to keep
your staff “off step” and without goals, or without being aware
of purpose, is wasteful.
HIRING OR KEEPING THE WRONG PEOPLE
met too many personnel people who are interested mostly in covering
their own butts. The selection process for their new hires never
seems to be an evaluation of an individual applicant but an
evaluation of outside approbation.
saw an organization choose the director for an important TV
commercial based on the school where the director got his degree. A
degree never directed a TV commercial. Another candidate was highly
skilled and had created several classic TV commercials — we’re
talking CLIO Awards. But that person wasn’t Ivy League and so was
not even considered. The final commercial was uninspired, almost
BUILDING AROUND INDIVIDUALS INSTEAD OF A TEAM
all the shortsighted strategies and management policies, this has to
be the worst. Every capable manager builds skills in his or her team,
and quite often one member in particular shines. But to make that
person uniquely invaluable and the sole repository of the information
or accomplishment of that part of the mission is an error.
off, it is unkind to the person to typecast him or her, as his or her
future often stops right there.
it is dangerous to the business that someone can walk out with that
section of the business, from financial figures to their unique
knowledge or personal relationships with your customers.
you have these situations, start building alternatives such as
training to cover over vacations or cross training that person into
another job so they have to share and train their existing work with
FAILING TO DEVELOP AND MOTIVATE PEOPLE
are still in a time of “the greater fool.”
greater fool looks at a broadcast property that is successful, well
managed, mature in the marketplace and a credit to everyone who works
there, yet sees ineptitude and underperformance. The fool sees
possibilities for endless growth that can only be effected by his or
her unique vision and leadership.
fool doesn’t understand that people — people with energy, focus,
commitment and skill — bring real success. Staff are the most
important part of the equation.
most satisfied staff feel like they are learning and growing, that
they are on a journey to personal success and are appreciated for who
they are and the work they do.
you don’t develop an environment where people develop new skills or
enhance their existing capabilities — if all they have is the
present — in their mind they’re just passing through.
in American business is usually compensational. How are people
compensated? One, in salary and benefits that are competitive and
related to job goals. Two, through work that they love to do. Three,
through the self-esteem that comes from recognizing them has having
earned their spurs. You let them know that they are important to you
and to the work effort.
is no mystical science or knowledge required in order to be a skilled
manager. One must keep his or her ego under control, then build good
habits implementing sound management principles.
S. Fitch, W2IPI, is a registered professional consultant engineer,
member of the AFCCE, senior member of the SBE, lifetime CPBE with
AMD, licensed electrical contractor, former station owner and former
director of engineering of WTIC(TV) in Hartford, Conn., and WHSH(TV)