Keeping top talent motivated and moving forward requires an investment of a manager’s time and attention. Most importantly, taking the necessary steps to support a rising star within your organization avoids the task of replacing them, which can be much more costly and time-consuming.
With so much of the focus today directed toward the technology that will drive next-gen TV innovations, such as ATSC 3.0, it can be easy to lose sight of the essential role talented personnel will play in achieving that vision.
For example, BIA Kelsey has estimated that broadcasters could add 3%-5% of additional CAGR (compound annual growth rate) to their station revenues through personalized ad delivery and other revenue-generating capabilities enabled by the new format.
However, as Bond & Pecaro’s John Sanders has warned, there is “significant execution risk” in developing new revenue streams, which typically require staff expansion and a “change in corporate culture.”
How do you minimize that risk? Managerial coach and HR consultant Barbara Kurka says strategies must include making sure you recognize when one of your organization’s “hi-po’s” — high potential talent — appears to be stalling out.
Kurka, a principal of BFKCoaching and executive coach with Lee Hecht Harrison, uses the hypothetical example of Jane, a technology-savvy team member in her 20s who developed a new platform that could potentially benefit the entire organization. Early on, Jane used to talk openly about her project and its benefits. When she became quiet and withdrawn in meetings, her manager became concerned about the future of both his hi-po and the project.
While her manager assumed what Jane needed was to develop greater confidence, the real issue lay deeper. Participants in meetings would ask her about how the new platform could be used and what changes would be required for coordinating with the new process. However, they never followed through with the necessary changes. Instead, they would ask Jane the same questions in every meeting and never act.
When Jane and her manager met, she explained that it had become clear her contributions weren’t valued, “so why speak up?”
Jane’s manager knew that the first question he would need to answer was: “Is Jane’s perception true?” Since Jane was sharing only her perspective, he would need to speak with several stakeholders to get as close to a 360-degree perspective as possible. In this instance, talking to one or two other people would not uncover the whole truth.
With that in mind, the manager also sat in on a few meetings to find out if Jane was being shut out or if she was shutting herself out. He also checked out the project’s progress, or lack of, by talking to his colleagues. In the end, he validated her perception that no actions were taking place. That led to the next question: what was really going on?
Probe For The Underlying Issue
Kurka uses this example to show that “there is always an issue beneath the presenting issue, and the manager’s role is to discover what it is.” She has found that asking “why” questions repeatedly can help to peel away the layers of symptoms and ultimately lead to the root cause of a problem. Very often, the ostensible reason for a problem will lead to another question. Keeping with her hypothetical example, she describes the process as following these lines:
- Presenting Issue: Jane is not speaking up. Therefore, she lacks confidence.
- Why doesn’t Jane speak up? Because she doesn’t believe her contributions are valued.
- Why does she believe her contributions aren’t valued? Colleagues in other departments don’t act on her recommendations.
- Why don’t they act? They are concerned the changes will have a negative impact on their departments.
- Why are they concerned? The benefits and outcomes of the changes weren’t clearly explained by senior management.
The underlying issue, then, was the lack of communication on the part of management.
In Kurka’s example, knowing the real issue allowed Jane’s manager to figure out who “owns” it. While there may be instances where more than one person has some responsibility, the project’s champion in this case was the manager who had approved implementation of the new program. He had not clearly explained the need, the benefits and any consequences of the change.
Once Jane’s manager knew who owned the issue, he set out an action plan. The solution required enlisting the cooperation of others, both inside and outside his department.
The situation also demonstrated that one of the company’s hi-po’s needed guidance on how to navigate the situation, even though she wasn’t responsible for its resolution.
The Manager’s Role
As Kurka stresses, keeping top talent motivated and moving forward requires an investment of a manager’s time and attention. Using the steps outlined in her “Jane” example can help a manager uncover why a hi-po isn’t performing at the expected level and help get them back on track.
Most importantly, taking the necessary steps to support a rising star within your organization avoids the task of replacing them, which can be much more costly and time-consuming.
A Success Story
While she may not have been facing the added complication of a high-potential employee stalling out, Mario Sevilla, digital director for KGTV, the Scripps-owned ABC affiliate in San Diego, demonstrated the strength of Barbara Kurka’s advice on the manager’s role in driving organizational change.
Sevilla knew that achieving a strong social media presence for the station depended upon the involvement of every employee who works there. Success meant avoiding the scenario of the fictional Jane whose efforts were undermined by colleagues who didn’t understand, and therefore resisted, the change.
With station leadership supporting the social media marketing initiative, employees embraced the idea. “We get unsolicited ideas from newsroom staff, creative services, the sales team, engineers, finance, research, human resources, department heads, everybody,” Sevilla told TVNewsCheck.
The results of this program underscore what can happen when there’s a shared vision and commitment. KGTV has almost 4 million actions on social, representing 27% of the total engagement generated in the 29th DMA. It also leads the market in actions per post.
The scenario outlined by Barbara Kurka is included in the regularly appearing “Human Factor” column in MFM’s member magazine, The Financial Manager. This one, entitled “When Stars Lose Luster,” appears in the January-February 2018 issue. Barbara Kurka is also a frequent presenter at MFM’s annual Media Finance Focus conferences, which typically feature a full track of sessions devoted to workplace and management issues.
This year’s conference will be held in the Washington, D.C., area (Arlington, Va.) May 21-23. The agenda will also reflect guidance from MFM’s Young Professionals Committee on professional development topics of interest to an organization’s hi-po’s. You can monitor updates to the agenda on the conference website.
MFM’s commitment to educational programs focused on improving an organization’s recruitment, training, and retention efforts underscores recognition by the industry’s financial leadership that, despite the significant role of smart technology in today’s business environment, “the human factor” remains the most vital element in an organization’s success.
Mary M. Collins is president and CEO of the Media Financial Management Association and its BCCA subsidiary, the media industry’s credit association. She can be reached at [email protected] and via the association’s LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook sites.