We ask so much of our employees, from voicetracking to production to writing copy and making that one extra sales call. Oh, and by the way, that?s on top of their regular duties. Most of us do these things gladly, because it means we?re employed. But that all goes out the window when we?re working in a hostile environment or are not appreciated.
So how do the best companies and their leadership teams find ways to maximize performance, many times with fewer resources, while putting their teams in a position to succeed and feel good about it? Let?s take a look at a tipping point in our industry that led to cutbacks, lower compensation, and benefit reductions, even as employees took on more responsibility for less reward.
Since 2001, our industry, like many others, has had to deal with a challenging economy and high expectations from investors who financed acquisitions at unrealistic multiples. Multiples are how stations and companies are bought. Generally speaking, a property?s value is determined by its cash flow times a multiple. The multiples in the late 1990s were as high as 20-times cash flow. So if a station produced $10 million in cash flow and the multiple was 20, the purchase price would be $200 million.
Today, the multiple can be as low as 5-times cash flow. Couple that with a shrinking advertising market, and you can start to understand why owners and CEOs who purchased at those high multiples are struggling to pay their debt. For one, they must rely on a smaller workforce made up of individuals who are talented and can take on multiple tasks beyond their traditional responsibilities. For the ?lucky? employees who have survived, it has meant doing more, often with less. Throw in technology, which is a blessing but also a curse. A blessing in that it affords you the ability to improve quality and increase the volume of work in less time ? but it also keeps you tethered to your job 24/7.
The people who can handle the responsibility and workload are out there. The key is retaining them and recruiting more while ensuring you are helping your team develop their professional potential in a positive environment. How do you ?earn? the gift of getting more from your team while having them be happy to oblige? Especially when you may have nothing more than a ?psychological paycheck? to offer them? Let?s take a look at how others, in and out of our industry, are handling this major issue affecting American business.
Andrew Hermalyn is the EVP/GM of 2U Inc., founded in 2008. 2U partners with top-tier colleges and universities to create the world?s best online programs. Hermalyn says, ?Be genuine and forthright. I have found great success when being transparent. Your team needs to know you are not holding anything back. It comes down to trust. The perfect combination is when you trust your team and your team trusts you.? He brings up a great point: It is all about the people! Surrounding yourself with the most talented individuals is key ? people who are self-motivated. You cannot motivate people. Inspire them, yes. But they must possess the flame to be proactive on their own.
When I look at building a team, across all departments, the first three things I look for are the characteristics management cannot teach:
Highly Intelligent: I want the smartest people whose DNA is in alignment with the job they are tasked to perform.
Core Values: What they do outside of work is not my business. I need people who are honest and transparent internally and externally when representing our brand.
The ?Crazy Gene:? A term I coined. The Crazy Gene is that inner voice in every overachiever, never allowing them to accept mediocrity, only the pursuit of excellence.
The key is making sure you put that person in a position that takes advantage of their strengths. When you have the right people, it is time to ensure they know where the goal line is, so we know when to throw the party.
Communication across the company, cluster, station, and each individual, clearly defining expectations, is crucial. For example, are you doing monthly staff luncheons that update the team across all departments and give them an opportunity to ask questions, especially the ?unspeakables?? Providing lunch and ending on a positive note ? like employee recognition for exemplifying the traits expected to achieve the goals of the team ? can pay serious dividends.
A culture that is collaborative, positive, fun, and accountable is important and expected. You want people who look for ways to accomplish goals and tasks rather than telling you the reasons they can?t. Honesty and integrity are crucial.
Glenn Chamoff, director/global lead development for Enterprise Services, explains how he inspires his team, and provides a vivid example of the cause and effect of his leadership qualities. ?I make it clear when I bring someone in on my team that I encourage collaboration ? all ideas are welcomed,? says Chamoff. ?I always credit the individual who contributes and treat my employees with respect and professionalism. These things are all very obvious, but many managers do not engage in this behavior.?
He goes on, ?Recently I was appointed to create a process flow from leads that are sourced from marketing and how they convert into opportunities for our sales organization. Sales and marketing have been at odds over the quality, quantity, and overall contribution marketing brings, as well as the process flow.
?Once I completed the process flow, I ran it by some key people on my team. One person noticed that although it gave every service-level agreement to sales from marketing, it never noted that a lead was converted to a sales opportunity. Once a salesperson has the lead, the marketing organization loses visibility.?
Chamoff concludes, ?It was a simple observation, one that resonated strongly with me. I revised the process, and presented it to senior leadership. It caused a stir within the sales organization, since sales had accountability to report back to marketing on leads submitted. The process was embraced fully by our CEO and his direct reports. I gave full credit and disclosure after the acceptance of the process to my team member and was able to reward her with a bonus.?
Harmelin Media is a results-focused, full-service media planning and buying company. It?s one of the largest independent media service companies in the country, and the clients say it?s not like other agencies.
Joanne Harmelin, Harmelin?s CEO and founder, and Mary Meder, the company?s president, are excellent leaders who prove that great people rise during times of adversity. During the Great Recession, companies were hacking positions and salaries to try and stay afloat. Harmelin Media cared too much about their people. During the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, not one employee was let go. Guess what? Harmelin has high retention of talented people, a team that has produced the best years, record years, during challenging economic conditions.
There is an old saying that rings true today: ?People don?t care how much you know until they know how much you care.?
The best leaders:
? Know the goals and aspirations of each member of their team.
? Help them develop and achieve their professional potential.
? Take a vested interest in their people.
? Praise and reward when deserved, and are honest when critiquing performance, making sure to say, ?This my perception, please prove me wrong. If not, let?s work on that.?
? Solicit and listen to constructive feedback about the organization and things you can be doing better both internally and externally.
? Do what you ask of them, leading by example, getting dirty and in the trenches with the team.
? Are real and don?t speak in ?manager talk.?
People read between the lines, and you can easily build a wall of distrust. Create a positive, collaborative, and results-oriented organization.
Connoisseur Billings, MT GM Cam Maxwell, whose teams consistently produce market-leading results, has this to say: ?Attitude is everything. You need to ask yourself prior to entering your building every single day, ?Am I ready to help my team win today?? You must be prepared to give yourself the necessary pep talk if your answer is anything other than ?Yes!? Attitude is contagious. Attitude electrifies your people. Attitude wins.
?There is no magic to leading your team to what you need them to attain, with the proper attitude. When your people know that you?re in the battle with them, they are compelled to try harder for the team. When they see you roll up your sleeves to get the job done, they are empowered to do the same, and follow suit. Don?t wait for a fire to put out. Proactively work with your people every day to grow ratings, revenues, and client results. Results happen when you?re not locked behind your desk, but rather when you?re helping your people achieve more ? with a contagiously positive attitude!?
Maxwell goes on, ?When you do that, the people inside the organization will feel it and go above and beyond to help deliver on the expectations of excellence defined by your audience, advertisers, and the communities you serve. You will also become the destination for overachievers to want to work, thanks to the environment you?ve created and the opportunity for professional growth. The best want to work for the best. Then they deliver the best results.
?Enough talk, let?s do the right thing for our people, and they will do the right thing and more to ensure the organization delivers on the expectations of the many constituents you serve.?
Andrew Rosen is general manager of the Connoisseur New Jersey/Pennsylvania properties. To share your thoughts, comments, or sarcastic remarks, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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