What Radio Managers Can Learn From Business Managers

Steve Kowch coaches radio managers at kowchmediaFrom where I sit On The Kowch, I’ve learned a thing or two about managing people in radio through my experience as a news director and program director. I use that experience on a daily basis as a consultant at kowchmedia to help emerging radio talent grow. In 2015 I learned a thing or two at my new company, The Creative Concepts Group set up with my business partner Sue Lacher. I use my media background to help managers take their business to the next level through better communications and management practices.

That got me to thinking. Why am I limiting what I write about in my On The Kowch Blog to only media when I can pass on great information about how managers in small, medium and large sized businesses tackle the same staffing issues we encounter every day in radio. It’s time to tap into the synergies of both my companies to talk about what radio managers can learn from business managers. 

10 management tips company logoWe start with the 10 Management Tips For Great Leaders created by JB Training Solutions. This is a company that develops employees throughout their entire life cycle – from entering the workforce all the way to succeeding in senior leadership roles. All good managers do this. They just give each of the 10 items their own title. It’s not what you call these tips that count. It’s what you actually do with them on a regular basis with your staff.

10 tips on managing radio managers

10 tips on how to manage people who work in radio and in business.

Lets go through the list and explain how to make them work in a radio station.

Share information: Staff are not mushrooms. Don’t keep them in the dark.

Say thanks: Make sure that email is waiting in the employee’s inbox when they show up for work the next day. It will have more impact than if you get around to it in the next day or so. Thanks is not a oh by the way kind of message.

Empower through delegation: Delegating is not about passing jobs on to other people in the radio station. When you delegate you need to provide clear instructions and time lines for results and follow up to make sure the job is done. It should be a learning experience for the employee to groom them for a promotion.

Adjust your style: There is no cookie cutter approach when it comes to dealing with talent. Recognize that everyone is unique and manage them according  to their strengths and weaknesses. Talent would always complain that I let another host do something they weren’t allowed to do on air. My response was simple: But you’re allowed to do what they can’t because you’re better at it.

Set small milestones: In business, numbers are sales related. In radio, numbers are about ratings (unless you’re in sales and then it’s the same as in business) so manage your expectations. Slow and steady is better than spikes.

Have fun: In radio, it’s all about the fun more than it is in business. I think business can learn a thing or two about letting their employees have fun at work. It’s more than just the annual Christmas Party.

Remove obstacles: You need to let people run with their ideas. I had a crazy idea about simulcasting with a French language radio station in Montreal to let anglophones and francophones talk to each other on a bilingual show. My GM, Rob Braide, gave me the green light and in the process both radio stations won the prestigious Canadian Association of Broadcasters Gold Ribbon Award for Information Programming.

Give feedback: I call it hallway diplomacy where I just roamed the radio station every day stopping to talk to people at their desk, in master control, the lunch room or a quick thumbs up at the door to their offices.

Raise your hand: This is the old lead by example. But understand some employees just want to punch the clock and do the best they can in their designated shift. It is important for those who are inspired to do more, be recognized for their hard work.

Focus your time: This is about spending the majority of your time time with staff who are chasing their dream to be great in radio. They have the passion and the positive attitude. They are members of the 25% Club. They don’t believe in CAN’T and work on the WHY NOT premise to help you make most things happen at the radio station.  The remaining 75 per cent of your staff are not interested in standing above the crowd or have forgotten how to chase their dream to do great radio.

From where I sit On The Kowch,  I think this is a good first step to introduce a new perspective to the blog. I want to do more of this in 2016 because at the end of the day, to be a great leader it’s about having a vision and the people skills to motivate people to join you in making things happen.  It’s not about radio. It’s not about business. It’s about people.  

Steve Kowch is Canada’s leading media coach at kowchmedia helping emerging radio talent chase their dream to become great broadcasters. He is also the Managing Partner at The Creative Concepts Group helping take business to the next level.

Steve ran two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations in Montreal and Toronto for more than 14 years. He was National Director of NewsTalk Radio Programming for Astral Media. He was a professor at two of Toronto’s leading broadcast schools and is the author of   99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG In Media. 

Contact Steve at 647-521-6397 or email steve@kowchmedia.com