By Mark Willis, RTDNA Region 4 & 5 Director
I have been off these pages recently, settling into a new role as the manager of a news organization. One of the first orders of business for me was to get to know the staff of all departments and introduce myself into the ways and traditions of the radio station. The station is awash in talent in all corners and many have welcomed me to the organization. There is still great talent in radio.
While settling into the new role, I had a chance to visit with a friend of mine who is also new in his job. He came to me for some advice on how to handle a difficult situation with one of his employees. He told me he was having a hard time handling someone who was “bullying” other members of his staff by launching into verbal tirades that have simply worn down his staff to the point of exhaustion.
My philosophy in joining any group as a brand new news manager is to listen, learn and manage from afar, while being at the ready in the event I am needed. He said that this person was creating quite a disruption, to the point where some people were calling in sick. Productivity has dropped, he said, to the point where something needs to be done. I told him to pull the anchor aside, give him a reprimand and if he doesn’t get it, it’s time to let him go. We are all human, and yes, sometimes the tension of a newsroom can reach a boiling point and four-letter words will fly. But when it comes to a matter of routine, the person using the foul language is demonstrating a feeble mind, unable to cope with newsroom pressure. When it comes to newsroom productivity, you have to consider the good for all, rather than the tirades of a few.
Here is my question for you. Have you ever dealt with a “newsroom bully?” Where you on the receiving end of someone’s nonsensical verbal tirade almost to the point to where you would call in sick? How did you handle it? Have you ever been a newsroom “bully” yourself, where people would avoid dealing with you because you may have brought your verbal flame thrower to work?
Or was the bully able to put a spark under you where you actually learned something from the experience? Tell me your experiences dealing with a "newsroom bully" and I'll follow up with some tips on how to defuse an unproductive situation, such as this. I’ll bet you’ve got some experiences.
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