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INTERFERING GM

QUESTION FOR DAN O’DAY:

Being a former PD and jock, my GM/Owner insists on being involved in every aspect of what I do. He has criticized my choice of music in a promo. He's insisted I word a promo in a certain way. He hovers over my shoulder when I'm working on SAW, whether it be a station promo or a commercial.

I dread Monday mornings because I fear his detailed checklist of what went wrong over the weekend. I dread his rundown of the mistakes my afternoon jock makes. He assures me that she is leagues better than the former afternoon announcer and that she does a good job...but, "Why does she have to use those phrases? And she repeats herself....And...."

Then he goes to her and questions her about the same things.

I know that I should be happy that I have a GM who is interested in the way the radio station sounds, but MY GOD...I have a job to do. I am the program director. He's the general manager. He has my department to oversee, the office manager to oversee, the sales staff to oversee. Oversee...not do. I feel like I am a glorified DJ. One who signs affidavits but certainly can't make any decisions.

His presence in the Production studio stifles creativity because he wants you to explain what you're doing as you do it. He wants to hear success as soon as you load the work parts in. How often have you had a brainstorm on a promo and walked into the studio...hoping it would turn out...and when it didn't you you'd try it again when you'd have a fresh perspective? Well, there was a time I did that, too.

His inability to give up control of promotions and small details of radio station operations makes me feel very under appreciated. He calls his constant criticism "brainstorming." He refers to his complaints as "managers' meetings" when in fact they take place in the studio while I'm trying to do my airshift.

His interference with the talent questions my authority. It totally undermines my aircheck sessions and makes the talent feel like they can't try anything creative...for fear that he will come running in and question them. Whatever the talent and I are trying to overcome via aircheck sessions and random taping is undermined by the fact that he will bring it up to me every morning that "she's getting too wordy again."

It makes me look like I don't make any decisions regarding talent and that they really don't need to talk to me about anything; they should go to him. His response is, "The day I, as GM, can't talk to one of my workers is the day I lock the doors."

Keep in mind, I am not some part-time DJ that he brought up from weekends to be PD. I have been in the business for 11 years. I know what I'm doing...and I probably will continue to learn and make mistakes.

I don't necessarily want to change radio stations. I have ties to this community and I do like the station. My only worry is the stress factor that he gives me. What I would like is suggestions on how to improve my working relationship with him. Perhaps ways to gain his trust without simply bowing to his wishes and doing things his way. I am trying to do good radio, not just HIS radio. I would like to be the Program Director I know I can be and not his personal assistant.

DAN REPLIES:

Your GM may or may not have been a good jock and a good PD. But as a General Manager, he is incompetent.

He has two fatal weaknesses.

  • He doesn't understand what a manager's job is. A good manager is a facilitator; it's his job to do whatever it takes to enable his staff to perform to the peak of their abilities. "Enable" does not mean "dictate." It means providing the tools, training, motivation and resources necessary for them to do the best job possible.

    If all of his employees truly need to have him micro-manage every aspect of their work performance, then he should resign immediately...Because obviously he is completely incompetent at hiring effective people.

    Two tools that would help someone in his situation:

    THE ONE-MINUTE MANAGER

    THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MANAGEMENT: How to Motivate Your Staff to Peak Performance

  • He has not learned how to delegate. "Delegating" does not mean requiring you, as PD, to do everything exactly the way he would do it. It means appointing a responsible person to take charge of a task or of a job...Making sure that person has the tools necessary to do the job...Monitoring that performance on an overall basis (not minutely)...And then getting out of that person's way and letting him do his job.

    An excellent resource from time management expert Harold Taylor:
    HOW TO DELEGATE EFFECTIVELY

What can you do about this situation?
  • Hope that a miracle occurs and he takes steps to become a more competent, professional manager.
  • Stop trying to be a real PD and settle for being his lackey.
  • Consider other career options.


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