Course correct! How to patch things up with the boss

When I recently published the article “New manager, new rules,” several people tweeted they needed that advice a little earlier.  New boss, burned bridge?  There are ways to try and rebuild.

If you really think the two of you are not seeing eye-to-eye, sit down and talk with the boss.  Don’t go in and say we are not seeing eye-to-eye, what should we do?  Sit down and say you wanted your new boss to have a few weeks to get settled and would love to know this new manager’s expectations.  This gives the person a chance to say what he/she wants from you, and what you are, and possibly are not, providing.  It is better to know what the expectation is and take a lump, than keep analyzing and guessing and potentially accumulate several strikes against you.   Listen to the manager’s insight and try and do it.  After a few weeks ask if the work you’ve done is more along the lines of what this manager wants.

Do some research and find out what this boss implemented in other places.  Then try and proactively do some of this.  Let’s say, a manager is known for segmenting out story elements.  Start implementing some of that in your own work.  Face it, if this person has a reputation for some of these techniques, he/she will try them at your station.  You might as well support it.  Showing you embrace new ideas always helps build bridges.

Most of all, understand that this new person is trying to figure out everyone and everything.  All stations run a little differently.  Even if this manager has snapped at you, most realize it is better to work with the people who are already there than try and push them out.  Show you are willing to be a team player and it just might work out, despite a rocky start.


New manager, new rules

We are coming up on the “season of change” for managers.  Changes are often made after May sweeps, so there’s time to get a new person in place before the fall.  A new manager means new opportunity and possibly a new pitfall.  Often people only worry about an ND change.  An AND or EP change can make as much of a difference in your future.  Do not underestimate their say in having you on a particular shift or having a job at all.  You need to make a good first impression.

So what does an assistant news director consider when coming to a new newsroom?  This person wants to make a mark.  Understand that AND’s run the day-to-day operations.  They are looking for people who will work with them to make changes.  This is a delicate dance, because you don’t want to alienate the ND if the AND decides to buck the current system too much.  You don’t want to end up in the middle of a political mess.  Focus on working hard and avoiding answering questions about why the place runs the way it does.  You do not know the AND’s agenda yet.  You do not want the AND to walk into a meeting and say these changes will happen and you told him/her the changes are justified because the place is poorly run.  Yes, this can and does actually happen.  I’ve seen it more than once.  Be agreeable.  Read “The 3 B’s to win over your ND” and keep those points in mind when dealing with a new AND as well.

Now let’s talk about EP changes.  Again, these people are trying to make a mark.  You want to be agreeable and willing to work hard.  Do yourself a favor and stay away from the group that tries to haze the new EP.  This especially happens in mid to large markets.  I watched it time and again.  Hazing the new EP is not smart.  I don’t care if you feel the person is clueless.  Remember, this person still has a say in your reviews.  This person can still move up in the company and blacklist you.  (Yes, that really happens too.) Stay out of the politics.  On the other hand, you also do not want to be the EP’s doormat.  Say no to the EP sometimes so you don’t end up getting extra piles of work when the EP becomes swamped.  Again, look over “ The 3 B’s” and follow a lot of that advice.  You want to be a go getter and eager to do your job.  But stay out of the politics.

Final thoughts on these new managers:  Once they have time to settle down, sit down with them fairly regularly and pick their brains on the news biz as a whole.  You can gain great insight on what they’ve seen and done.  Both AND’s and EP’s do more training and critiquing of your work than the ND usually does.  Asking for an occasional critique is a great way to continue to advance your skills.  It also is a great way to form an alliance while keeping yourself out of the politics in your newsroom.  View these new managers as a new opportunity to broaden your skills.  Work hard for them and, you never know, they may take you along when they rise higher in the biz.


Smart Alliances: Relationships that can make your career.

The old saying is especially true in newsrooms:  Guilt by association.  Your alliances are very important, not just for your current job, but for future networking opportunities as well.   That’s why we are providing a series of articles on building smart alliances.  We begin with an overall look at newsroom relationships, then will get more specific based on job description.

Before we begin, stop for a minute and think about your friend base.  In many cases with TV news journalists, it’s all people you work with.  Now think about how those friends in the business are perceived in the newsroom.  We are not saying you cannot be friends with the high maintenance anchor/reporter or temperamental producer/director/assignment editor.  But you do need to consider how much time you spend with your newsroom friends in front of other newsroom employees.  One question managers ask over and over when considering moving a person up internally for promotions is:  “Who are they friends with in the newsroom?”  Managers have a better clue than you might realize who the partiers are, who the gossips are and who keeps a nose to the ground and focuses on getting the job done.

The key to newsroom friends is, you can end up in direct competition for shifts.  People with different job descriptions can still impact how you are perceived in handling your own job.  In upcoming articles we will discuss how to align with people in the newsroom with different job descriptions to help you make the most of your job.  Now we are going to look at the kind of reputation you ideally want as a “friend” in the newsroom.

Ideally you want to either be or align yourself with one of three types of friends at work:  The Diffuser, The Cheerleader and The Funny Guy/Gal.   These people tend to draw positive attention to themselves and get plenty of results.  So let’s delve into each a little more.

The Diffuser is a type of peacemaker who has a solid backbone.  This is the person people look to weigh in when there’s a heated debate over content coverage.  This is also the person who tends to be friendly with all the different personality types in the newsroom.  If this isn’t you, this is the type of person you want to align yourself with.  Chances are the managers are eyeing this person for future promotions.

The Cheerleader puts a positive spin on crappy situations.  This person is not necessarily an ass kisser though.  You will hear cheerleaders complain about a decision or issue, then put a positive spin like:  “I really hate being put on overnights, it really hurts my family life, but at least I have a job.”   This person is usually very good at handling office politics and because he/she is considered a positive person, managers may consult with him/her on and off before making certain decisions impacting a specific shift or group.

The Funny Guy/Gal is really good at lightening the mood.  Even if he/she can be sarcastic, management usually considers the person harmless.  Like a class clown, one of these is expected in a newsroom and most of the time, everyone appreciates the chance to laugh.

Now a closer look at the type of reputation you want to have.  You want to be seen as someone who shoots straight, doesn’t stir the pot and is fair.  This not only helps get management’s attention, it also helps you weigh through the inevitable personal battles waging in newsrooms over shifts, who is backstabbing who, and whether people are more loyal to the bosses than coworkers.  Keep these characteristics in mind when choosing your smart alliances at work.