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Team rebuilding ideas

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by another fake name, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. another fake name

    another fake name New Member

    My faithful SportsJournalists.commers,

    I write in need of advice.

    There was a situation with the staff at my non-newspaper publication recently in which the editor pulled me aside. The conversation wasn’t exactly heated, but it wasn’t real cordial either. Among the items discussed, he requested …

    1) Eight weeks notice when/if I decide to leave.
    I laughed when this was said, because I thought it was a joke. He was being serious. He asked if eight weeks was unreasonable. I reminded this person that many places need 2-4 weeks. I failed to mention that our contract says 30 days notice is required to receive any unused vacation time.

    2) Much of the conversation was about how our small staff (less than 10) isn’t really a team any more. He’s right. There are factions. Lines have been drawn, mostly based on his micromanagement style with certain individuals (think along these lines … if he’s not in the office when an employee is to report, he’ll call to make sure the person is there. Instead of allowing reporters to follow up with sources for photos/additional info, he will initiate the contact and, in the process, ask questions that have already been addressed between the reporter and source. Instead of allowing reporters to schedule interviews with sources, he’ll set them up … not knowing the reporters schedule.). Other people, however, are given free reign and, despite being lower on the totem poll, their opinions are deemed more worthy. So in this conversation, he says he’d like me to come up with ways to rebuild our team, which really lacks communication with each other.
    I’m relatively young. I’ve never been a manager. But two thoughts: 1) Is this really my responsibility? I mean, he is the manager, yes? 2) I have no clue what to tell him, other than, “Start trusting your staff” and “let your staff spread their wings and do what they’ve been trained/educated to do so you don't have a 'hoover' ” But if I do this, I'm fearful of the backlash from him. In the past, he had a very heated exchange with an individual who questioned him. It ultimately led to that person's firing. Another person said he felt he was being goaded into an shouting match before he told the editor he had another job lined up. That person gave a month's notice and was told to leave a week later.

    I know this is really vague. Intentionally so … I doubt he looks at SportsJournalists.com (not much of a sports person), but still.

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

    And yes, I am job searching, and no, I will not give eight weeks notice.
  2. lono

    lono Active Member


    Tell him to get a copy. Or a clue.
  3. SportsDude

    SportsDude Active Member

    This guy is in over his head, he knows it and he doesn't know what to do about it. He also has no clue about how employment etiquette if he thinks you should give eight weeks notice.

    If you don't want to talk to him about it, tell him you're not sure what to change. Tell him you're not in a position for the proper vantage point.

    I worked with someone similar to this. He couldn't understand why everyone at the place hated him. He asked about this to someone who was close to retirement, and they told him straight he was micromanaging like hell and making their lives miserable.

    He was pissed, but he managed to change. Some people just need a wake up call I guess. But good luck, sounds like a tough decision.
  4. Stone Cane

    Stone Cane Member

    tell the guy, look, you don't trust me enough to schedule my own freaking interviews, how the hell can you trust me to consult with you on macro issues facing the department?
  5. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    First of all, thanks for making me feel better about my current shop.

    Second, Let me finish laughing about the 8-week thing. "I'd love to start working for you, but I'm obligated to continue at my shop through fucking Labor Day."

    Third, tell him if he wants advice for you in the future, start treating you like an adult BEFORE he goes to you with big-picture problems.
  6. lono

    lono Active Member

    Seriously, if he wants to engage you in this, I'd ask him a lot of questions.

    Why is he coming to you?

    What specifically is he trying to accomplish? - try to get something more definitive than a vague "improve the team."

    Is he soliciting everyone's input? - if he's not, he's wasting time because he's only going to divide the staff more deeply.

    If he's not asking everyone else, who else is asking? You alone? Half the staff? Most of the staff?

    What are three most glaring problems he sees?

    What's his time frame for getting them fixed?

    At the very least, IF you're going to tackle this - and I'm not saying you should - get at least one or two other staff members working on with you and keep DETAILED notes in case it blows up.

    That way you have a paper trail to take to the publisher if the shit hits the fan, because, honestly, if the editor is such a control freak that he's scheduling interviews for his reporters, this whole exercise sounds to me like it could be an exercise in epic fail, with you taking a bullet for the team.

    Consider the whole eight weeks notice thing. He sounds like he's one of these power freaks who demands complete loyalty and then the minute you do anything he views as disloyal, he kicks you to the curb.
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