What Makes a Place a Good Place to Work

What makes a particular operation a good place to work? That’s a question I’ve pondered for about a quarter of a century at least when it comes to news operations which is where most of my experience omes from. Good ratings help but I’ve worked at Number 1 stations and for strong Number 2 operations and there’s still a lot of grumbling. It seems that so much money has to be spent to achieve the Number 1 slot that there’s little money to go around for the “worker bees”. I still remember hearing a quote attributed to one manager who said he’d rather have a profitable Number 2 station than a Number 1 station barely making budget.
Good equipment is a big plus. I’ve worked at stations where you weren’t sure if the video you shot was good until you got back to the edit bay and even then you had to keep your fingers crossed that the machines didn’t eat the tape. Good, strong management is a plus but they have to be more than cheerleaders. Good managers lead by example. Employees usually have good BS detectors since a little incompetence by managers goes a long way. One of my favorite NDs told me once that I could ask him anything. He said if hf he knew the answer, he’d tell me and if he didn’t know the answer he’s tell me that. He also said if he couldn’t tell me something, he’d tell me that as well. On the other hand, I’ve had managers lie to me knowing that I knew they were lying.
I think pride in the operation is a big deal. I know of stations and have worked at some where they might not have the top ratings or the best equipment or the best building but there is a “can-do” team spirit. Yah, you will always have people who bitch and moan but sometimes being the underdog making headway against the big dogs helps inspire team spirit more than any stuffed animal or slogan from the HR department.
Hiring and keeping good employees is a must. If they aren’t doing the job, get someone who will do it and then reward them. Don’t tell them how lucky they are to have a job. Tell them how lucky you are to have them working with. Loyalty is a big deal. If you want loyalty, make sure you give it as well. And remember there should be no such thing as an unimportant person in any operation. Even the person who takes out the garbage becomes very important if he or she isn’t doing the job.
Where am I going with this? No where in particular. Most of this is common sense that seems to have slipped by a lot of folks these days. Just consider it a random musing on this Tuesday morning as I finish my coffee.

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12 Comments on “What Makes a Place a Good Place to Work”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Joe,
    A very good article. Management must communicate effectively with employees. Years ago, I worked for a large non-profit organization. New management came in and ruled if you didn’t have a graduate degree or certification, you weren’t management material. The secret there was the dedication of many workers who had been there 15, 20, even 25 years or more. As a result, many of us left. Years later, those decision makers have moved on to greener pastures!!

    Pay is crucial…do what’s right…pay the market rate and give increases for good, consistent work. Loyalty and morale will suffer if this isn’t followed.

    Thank you for your insights…they’re very informative and entertaining!

  2. Bob Jacobs Says:

    What makes a good place to work? Leadership. Someone who a) has creditibility and stands for something; b) envisions the future and inspires those around them; c) looks for ways to innovate, grow, and change; d) builds trust by sharing power, providing advice, and making those around them feel competent and confident; and e) keeps hope and determination alive.

    Of course, you can always take the stereotypical television GM approach, which is to intimidate, lie, threaten and abuse.

    I’m afraid the dream of the perfect place to work doesn’t exist in this “disposable” society of corporate profit margins.

    As the infamous urban legend quote attributed to Hunter S. Thompson says, “The TV business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Don’t know if you saw this yet – i just saw it.

    From Associated Press
    NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times Co. said Tuesday that it
    intends to sell its group of nine network-affiliated TV stations in
    order to concentrate on its newspaper and digital businesses.
    Chief Executive Janet L. Robinson said in a statement that while
    the stations were profitable and well-run, the sales would “allow
    us to sharpen our focus on developing our newspaper and rapidly
    growing digital businesses, and the synergies between them.”
    The stations accounted for 4 percent of the company’s revenue
    last year, the company said.

  4. Average Guy Says:

    Give more than you take. This is true for management, for staff and true in life. Anyone or any organization that has an entitlement mentality will fail. You help people get what they want and an amzing thing happens — you’ll get what you want.
    The GM

  5. John Says:

    Hey Joe, you may be very interested to hear this, just breaking…

    New York Times will be selling ALL of its TV stations, including WREG.

    Link(sorry about length)
    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=105317&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=904561&highlight=

  6. autoegocrat Says:

    Check this out, I just read it about five minutes ago. NYT Company is going to sell the Station by the River.

    Link

  7. LeftWingCracker Says:

    Chasing a story right now: NYT Broadcasting has apparently sold ALL TV properties, which would include the station DOTR…

  8. bishop Says:

    I just heard that Channel 3 is up for sale.

  9. John Says:

    WOW. LOL, word travels fast!!!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Joe:
    I have always been successful by allowing employees to show what they can do on a project if only by giving a deadline for completion and letting the “peeps” do their thing. On the front end, advising what is expected and they always amazed me at their inventiveness. Next thing is to sit back and “read the mail” see who the players, shakers, and slugs are. Coach when needed but otherwise stay out of the way. Most know what to do or they wouldn’t be there.
    It’s been a very profitable way for me.
    ……….JD


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