Ashley Golder

Bad Managers: Get out of our industry

How team work is for everyone and not just for the people you employ.

There are some great managers in the world, ones who inspire you to do better and do more, ones that listen to your problems and help find solutions and ones that pull you up on your shortcomings in such a way that you feel, despite those shortcomings, you can and will be better.  There is an innate value of trust and teamwork there and I have to say – that is beautiful!

But with every Ying, there is Yang. With light comes dark. With steak comes salad… You get the point. With every good manager, there is a bad manager. Some managers aren’t all that supportive, aren’t that empathetic and do not encourage or promote your strengths. In my industry – the broadcast media industry, more often then not I have observed these managers to be people who are in it just for themselves. A specific career ladder type who would rather make you look bad then allow you to look good in front of anyone else.

But should we have to work with these people? The uninspiring, selfish, egotistical and egocentric people that would rather walk over you then walk with you? Hell no!

Within the broadcast media industry, our work revolves around being engaged, creatively and professionally. Working together as a unit but also being able to work as an individual and is one of the reasons that attracted me to this industry in the first place. If we do not work as part of a team in this industry, the likelihood of making something below par is quite high. The prospect of this happening is heightened when there is someone within the team who does not play well with others.   

I think what best exemplifies my point is embodied in the work ethics of most runners, especially for large entertainment programmes of which require an army of runners. I have been a part of, and then later on in my career, witness to the unquestionable loyalty, trust and teamwork that is the colony of runners within a production team. Runners work beautifully as a team. If one runner is struggling, another runner will come and help. If a runner needs covering because they’re tied up making their 1000th green tea for superstar talent, another runner is just a comms away to pick up the slack without quarrel.

My point is, most runners have the work ethic of wanting to help, no matter what. With this comes the trust and respect of your fellow runners so therefore, if you’re in a runner team of 15 strong, you know there are 14 runners that have your back if you need a helping hand and that’s incredibly important. However, this ethic is not shared by everyone.

If I could work in teams that follow this resounding trust for the rest of my career, I will be a very happy media professional.  Knowing that I have every faith in my colleagues to do what is right for the job as opposed to what is right or easier for them as an individual. It may be something trivial like staying late one evening to help with a deadline to something morally right like standing up for your own mistake when someone else is getting the wrap for it. I want to work in a culture that fosters this teamwork and trust whilst dispelling the selfish and unreasonable.

I have been fortunate (or perhaps unfortunate?) to witness both. I have been that runner in need of a helping hand only to have 4 other runners swoop in to assist me but I have also been a producer in the firing line for a mistake my manager made but thought not to speak up. Those times unfortunately are not too rare and you have to pick your battles when to speak up for what is right and when to take the wrap and deal with it later.

However, regardless of management, peer or someone lower down in the chain than you, there has to be trust. Without that trust, you will never have a great team. Instead you will have people working under an authority whilst always trying to cover their tracks to make sure they are not disadvantaged by a particular system. When a team is having to constantly think about how they appear and if their, or someone else’s actions will do a disservice to them then instead of a creative team, you have individuals in a group looking out for themselves. When this happens, communication drops, ideas are kept as ideas and a company becomes stale and complacent, always wary that to say something could mean reprimand and therefore to say nothing is safer.

It is therefore up to the authoritative figure, whether the CEO, Line manager or other, to filter team work into their company. But not just the thought of it, the application of it. To foster this teamwork just like the runner teams manage to do so seamlessly.

A good manager will be part of a team. Yes there needs to be some orchestrating of madness but that’s exactly what is needs to be. A conductor of an orchestra working with his team and getting the best out of them. A manager ready to take the bullet for their team when they should in order to encourage their team to do the same. It is a manager who is willing to let the buck stop with them instead of passing it off to someone else.

Bad managers have no place in the broadcast and media industry. They do not instil confidence, they do not foster creativity, they do not embody trust within the organisation and they do not allow for original thought that could be the next best thing the company has ever seen. So, if you own a company or you manage a team, ask yourself: What kind of manager are you? Do you do your job for what’s best for the company, or do you do your job if it’s best for you. If it’s the latter, can you please change industries, we have no time for you here.