Your Number One job priority as a manager is to make your boss look good. Your boss' agenda always comes first. When I ask managers their most important job as a sales manager or general manager, the answer is always: "Take care of my customers, manage my salespeople," and so on. No one ever says it's to make their boss look good.
In most cases, your boss' feelings about you determine whether you'll be promoted, transferred to another market, or fired. Let's face it: If you don't make your boss look good, you'll probably end up with the last of the three.
Here are some serious things to contemplate if you are working your way up the ladder or you are a sales rep who is considering management someday.
IT'S ABOUT THE PEOPLE, STUPID. Radio stations don't run on money, tower height or share points. They run on people. When's the last time mediocre managers hired salespeople with superior talents? Most managers hire people like themselves. If they are only marginally successful as managers, then what reason is there to expect them to hire the best? Most insecure managers hire people without the capability to take their job someday. This tactic secures their position, and it also secures their exit visa from the company when they have a boss who demands results and accountability. According to the Harvard Business School, the top three things managers hate to do is: fire somebody, fire somebody, and fire somebody. If this is true, then we must make sure we hire right.
USE COMMON SENSE. Trust your instincts - but don't always trust them. Likewise, think things through, but remember that over-analysis can lead to paralysis. Your best decisions are formed by experience but don't be afraid to take chances. Pepsi Cola demands that its managers make some mistakes, but they also demand the managers use common sense. A firsthand example in the Radio industry comes from one market last year (station and group will go unnamed) when management decided to stage an expensive concert at a baseball stadium the company owned. The concert was not underwritten before the due date for the deposit money, but the managers insisted that they would get that funding. They did not get it - and were left owing $200,000 when ticket sales didn't cover the concert. Use your gut, but don't convince yourself that something looks good out of desperation. Your gut is usually right.
GET RID OF THE WRONG PEOPLE. The biggest disservice we can do is to hang on to sales reps who are not producing. You're not doing anybody a favor; and carrying someone who isn't cut out for sales eventually boomerangs, because you are impeding their potential for growth elsewhere. When someone has made a decision to leave, talking that person into staying - and even countering the offer - in most cases doesn't work. The employee eventually leaves anyway. The non-producing profit center also keeps you from moving up the ladder, which doesn't make you look very good to your boss.
INJECT SOME LAUGHTER. Lack of humor is usually a sign of a company in trouble, headed for trouble, or deserving to be in trouble. Managers who don't take themselves too seriously usually end up on top of the ladder. One of my managers last week had several examples of how he used humor with the sales staff. For instance, he ran video clips before the sales meeting started, effectively relieving the tension caused by pacing behind budget for the month. He left people funny e-mails (clean, of course) before they arrived at the
office every day. A funny thing happened - his staff over-exceeded projections. Pick up a book on humor at your local bookstore, and start planning some laughter in your sales department or stations. According to Mark Twain, humor is the best weapon we have - and the one we use the least.