It's Okay To Fire A** Holes...
September 9, 2014
Finding the right personality to add to a station on-air lineup or hiring a staffer for the office requires more than skills. Team chemistry is an intangible that needs to be considered in either case. Hiring the wrong person could have a harmful effect on a radio station. I always harp about being prepared with more than one plan in case your first one doesn't work out.
Just when this PD thought he had the perfect plan to shore up some of his stations weaknesses, his VP/GM forced him to regroup. I hope you can learn something from our conversation.
PD: I am in a situation with a morning show that just does not cut the mustard.
Coach: So fix it ... what's the problem?
PD: This morning show was built from within. We tried syndication but it did not work for us. We have gotten to the point that part of the morning show is just not getting it done. I have had critique sessions and done everything I can to help the show sound better and increase ratings for the show. Their numbers fall far below the station's overall.
Coach: Then why can't you fire whoever you need to and start over. It sounds like you have done everything possible to improve the show.
PD: Man, I have been working around this situation for three years. I have done things with the clock and music to make the best of a bad situation. My VP/GM has a hard time with letting people go. We are in a unique situation and have had a lot of success and he is reluctant to change. Fortunatel,y one of the shows members recently got himself fired. It has given me the opportunity for a plan to rearrange things to strengthen the show and make adjustments to my department.
Coach: And there is still a problem?
PD: Yes, one of the other bad apples is still in there, but I missed my window to get rid of him, too. I allowed too much time to pass and the VP/GM had time to get cautious about dumping this guy. I am telling you, this jock is negative, does not even try to execute the format the way he should, and is critical of everything despite the station's successes. And you will love this: After the other guy on the show was let go, this guy started stabbing him in the back before he could out the door. He is just about himself without loyalties to anyone. I always steer interns and new part-timers clear of him because he such a downer.
Coach: Well, if he is that much of a pain, I really do not understand why your boss wants you to hold on to this guy. He must have something on your boss.
PD: Yeah, and here is the bad part, because I can't fire him, it has caused me to go to one of my backup plans. Whoever I hire has to be strong enough to deal with his crap as a co-host. The other personality on the show is neutral and is still learning how to be a sidekick. This process has taken so long that the person I had wanted to hire has taken another job. I am very frustrated. Have you ever had to deal this anything like this?
Coach: Yes, I had to work around a situation by isolating the jock and surrounding her with loyal and talented personalities. My nightmare jock eventually did something I was able to document and it led to her being fired. She had been disruptive, but I was able to create enough positive chemistry around her to keep things rocking!
You hang in there and I am glad to hear you have backup plans to solve your problem. It sounds like you have been patient and open minded in attempts to fix the show. Hopefully, your new hire to minimize the bad apple or begrudgingly force him to get his act together. However, do not expect your troublemaker to stay on the path of doing the right thing. He will fall back into old habits; just be patient and be ready to make a move quickly if your boss has a moment of clarity. I suggest you have someone on speed dial and ready when the day comes.
PD: Thanks Sam, I hope I can solve my issues the way you did. At least I feel better by knowing I am on the right track.
Character & Chemistry
Baseball's Oakland A's is the best example of what can happen with one wrong move. I honestly do not believe it is not a coincidence the team had their worst month in over two years after trading outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Jon Lester. Statistically, on paper it was a move to strengthen the team's pitching for the playoffs and a chance to get to the World Series. The A's did add a bat or two to take up the hitting they lost by trading Cespedes, but the GM underestimated the physiological effect it was going to have on the team. They obviously lost more than a hitter; they lost some of their heart and chemistry. That is the part of a winning equation statistics do not factor in.
Just like sports teams, winning radio stations are more than a collection of employees. Chemistry is one of the keys to the success of any organization. No matter how long you program, no two stations are identical, what works well for one may not work for another. When you have the chance to enhance your staff, try and hire those who connect to the values and vision you have for the future.