(By Randy Lane) Program directors and operation managers spend most of their time interpreting ratings and research, scheduling music, marketing/promotion, and other administrative duties. There is little time left for coaching talent. This underdeveloped skillset can be a source of frustration to both management and talent.
The Randy Lane Company works with management on honing their coaching skills, but we can’t be there every day. Here are three primary components to help build a collaborative coaching relationship with talent.
We’ve walked into sterilized radio stations that feel more like law offices. Radio could take a page out of Google or Disney’s playbook and set up an environment to encourage creativity. Short of Google’s famed nap pods, encourage workspaces that are fun and personalized by talent.
• Safety: Talent will perform to their potential when they are encouraged to take creative risks and not be reprimanded when they fail. Failure is essential to creative breakthroughs.
• Complaints are good! Complaints mean the audience is reacting to the show or talent. No complaints are great for management, but it means that the audience is not reacting emotionally.
• Transparency: Share ratings, research, and what’s going on with the company. In the absence of information, employees assume the worst.
It’s critical that management have a relationship with talent. They must trust management and feel that management is on their side before effective coaching can happen. Constructive feedback will fall on deaf ears without a relationship.
Be curious. Be an active listener and observer. Ask about their family, their well-being, and their interests.
One size does not fit all. Some talents want direct feedback and others want a more positive and gentle approach. Ask how they like to be coached if they don’t tell you.
Meet one-on-one at least monthly with all talent. The most important question you can ask is, “What do you need?” or “What can I do to help?” Be collaborative and allow talent to challenge your recommendations.
Involve the main players in all show decisions. It is shocking to still see major market management make show decisions without involving the talent.
Left- and Right-Brain Clashes
A well-known morning personality once referred to the PD’s office as the place where all good ideas go to die!
Often, management is processing from a left-brain mindset that relies on structure, data, proof, and ratings. Talent, on the other hand, is processing from a mostly right-brain mindset that requires less structure, more emotion, and spontaneity.
Find effective middle ground. Try the following techniques in your next coaching session:
• Ask questions. Reserve comments or judgments until after your questions are answered.
• Be an active listener. Look for areas where you can add, expand, or move the session forward positively.
• If you don’t think the idea will work, look for a nugget that could take the original concept in a new direction.
• Be accessible. Talent is most effective when they have timely responses to questions, concerns, and approvals.