Teamwork is essential to a newsroom, and individuals are essential to a team. News managers go beyond team management, and work directly with individuals. Good hiring is among the most vital skills in management. That’s followed by skill in guiding and growing employees to be their best. And, unfortunately, part of good management is handling situations involving employees who aren’t performing well.
Your most crucial opportunity in building your team is during the selection phase.
Just as pro sports teams use the draft to add skill or shore up weakness, you must make the most of your hiring opportunities.
Different hires will require different skills and face different questions.
Fundamental to building a good team is to assemble one that reflects your community in its diversity. As News Director you play a key role in fostering this diversity by seeing its journalistic merits and monitoring your selection processes to avoid tendencies toward homogeneity.
As a manager, you have a responsibility to help your staff grow. Using both formal and informal feedback opportunities, you create a context for awareness and effort toward improvement.
Develop “employee improvement plans” for all members of your team.
Training is a vital part of the development process. Stations that do not adequately invest in training fail to make the most of their resources.
Some employees prove challenging but are worth your effort.
The individuals on your news team grow in value as they grow in experience, confidence and recognition. You should be the arbiter and driver of a process that rewards them with advancements in salary, perks and recognition. It is important to retain quality personnel as you invest in them and accrue equity in their name and talents.
The best way to prevent a firing is to make good hires and conduct effective improvement measures. However, when an employee is unable (or unwilling) to perform according to clearly articulated standards — and your improvement plan has served to document this failure — you owe it to all concerned to terminate employment of that individual.
If the employee has considerable merit and can serve the station elsewhere, perhaps a transfer is appropriate. But a transfer simply for the sake of avoiding a firing is not appropriate.
If firing is the preferred solution, be sure to involve your HR department as early in the process as possible.
A termination can be painful but it will be a path worth taking because your mission and your team require optimal effort and performance.