How Is Your Staff Doing, Emotionally?
I visit stations, as I often do, I am very aware of the “mood in
the room.” Often, because I pose no threat, and because I’m a
trained mental health clinician, I glean from conversation a lot of
underlying issues that perhaps management doesn’t have time to pay
from anything happening in their personal lives, station personnel
are concerned about what’s happening with their jobs, their sources
of income, the stress level of their bosses, who is going to get laid
off next, and — if they’re in sales —how they are going to make
should understand that an attitude of “I don’t have time to worry
about how my staff feels” will end up costing the company in the
who are stressed and depressed are more likely to call out sick, to
be less productive and less creative. In the radio business, the
ability to be productive and creative is a quintessential
is a great resource for tips on minding stress on the job:
I were to propose a concept for your station to build a more
effective team, it would be in the context of family therapy. When
you consider the station as a family, there is a strong possibility
that there are multiple dysfunctional aspects here. When I discussed
my theories with several broadcast professionals, their response was
unanimous: “Oh yeah, stations are very dysfunctional.”
the words of Jerry Maguire, “Help me help you.” Family Therapy
first encourage all staff members, not just management, to take a
and general managers have no outlet to talk about their stress
levels. They must present themselves as captains of the ship and are
quite possibly faking it. When they leave the station, they may well
experience emotional eating and drinking
are high-pressure positions. Somehow, in some way, the stress of the
job is going to take a toll on their health. Stress hormones result
in weight gain, heart attack, memory loss and other health crises. It
is imperative that people in such circumstances maintain a work/life
stations downsize and eliminate jobs, remaining staff struggle with
added responsibilities; some feel overwhelmed and underqualified.
There are ways that stations — at least those that wish to be
productive and increase revenue, listenership and development —can
take care of staff who remain, even if budgets are tight.
people do not have the exclusive on struggling economically, feeling
obsolete or having a sense of “trying to just hang in there until
the economy turns.” In my private practice, I see it all the time.
teach stress management skills to help clients cope. There are no
quick fixes, but when you realize that you are in over your head
stress-wise and that your quality of life is suffering, you will
begin to seek ways to overcome it.
might have that familiar excuse, “I don’t have time to take care
of myself,” or one that I recently heard, “When the dust settles,
then I’ll take a vacation or something.”
aware of your surroundings and circumstances. Take a breath; and
acknowledge that your station staff is made up of human beings with
lives outside of the station walls. You, too, are in that category.
is no “cookie cutter” plan, because each company culture and
circumstance is unique. But let me be clear: The dust will never
settle unless you do something to settle it.
author is CEO of Orchard Media Services Inc., a consultant
specializing in FCC compliance for radio/TV. She is a graduate of the
NAB Broadcast Leadership Training Program and a licensed marriage and
family therapist, author, speaker, podcaster and professional
development coach. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
wrote in September about questions that a therapist would tell radio
to think about when considering its relationship with audience. See
keyword Orchard, to find “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.”