One of the hardest things to do when you transition to management is to learn when you jump in and when you back away. This takes some trial and error, and a few key reminders.
What managers are truly judged on:
Your team’s successes
Your ability to improve others skills
Your time management
Problem solving on your own
The biggest misconception new managers often have, is that the ratings race is now squarely on their shoulders. This is not true. If you raise the ratings by either doing everything yourself or leading with a reign of terror you will still get the axe.
Your job is to help your entire team succeed. A wise GM once told me, “You are considered a great manager, when you leave and the staff still executes as well or better than when you were there.” Think hard about that statement. If you believe that to really be true, then your first priority as a manager switches from turning the best newscast everyday, to helping others around you improve themselves each day.
Which leads to our next point: Your new role as a manager is not to dive in and redo or fix all the mistakes. Your role is to help others around you improve, so that no one has to routinely dive in and fix others mistakes. The minute you take a management job, you become a mentor. It is that simple. You must know how to help others around you grow and challenge themselves. You are a cheerleader, a reality checker and in many ways a careful observer. So diving in and writing an entire A-block or rewriting every reporter script each day is actually a failure on your part. You are letting your staff down by doing so. You are preventing your staff from succeeding long term.
You also set the example on how to time manage. If you work tireless hours, then take it out on the staff around you, for “being such a mess,” you lose credibility. If you roll in late everyday, leave early several times a week and take long lunches you also lose credibility. Understand that the staff around you keeps a close watch on how hard you work and how long. They take note. They base a tremendous amount of their respect for you on your scheduling. You need to show them how to work hard, while still maintaining some semblance of a life. This shows you are a compassionate, respectful manager who will also honor their hard work and time put in each day.
Finally, if your solution to problems that arise is to go running to the assistant news director or news director for direction, you are dead in the water. Your staff will consider you a joke, and so will your ND. You have to problem solve, largely, by yourself. Of course, if there are potential legal ramifications you do need to consult. But if a reporter is ignoring your orders or a producer is not listening and doing whatever they want, you must fix the issue yourself. Running to the other “parent” to have them hand out the discipline will destroy any chance you have of building credibility. This is an extremely hard lesson. If you try several techniques to no avail, then you need to come to your news director with that list, one-on-one, and provide more suggestions to handle the situation. Never go to the ND and ask him or her to flat out fix it. That’s what you are paid to do now.
So there you have it, go lead by empowering others to challenge themselves. Set up a work routine that you want others to follow. And when an issue arises, come up with a solution and execute. Some decisions will be wrong. Admit it, then fix it. Your staff will learn from this example. It will earn you a lot more credibility than running for guidance and refusing to take a stand yourself.