MDS 1994 Staff Meeting

Ten Years ago, I gave this talk at two staff meetings (one at night for news department and the other during the day for the daytime staff to attend). I thought it would be interesting and somewhat telling of the cautions and warnings I made then which have come to past. Here is it.

[Snacks to be served 15 minutes before each meeting] 3-22-94

[ DRAW for DOOR Prizes and make awards. ] [6:46 pm 3-21-94]

You will all hear the same words I speak. How you interpret the words will be different. What you think I mean will be different. What you believe is behind some of the words will also be interpreted differently. But if there is just one common conclusion I hope you will draw, it's this: We are in this boat together. Whether IT wins the boat race or loses...or even sinks, is up to all of us. It's up to Me and each and every one of you. It's for that reason I am here NOW.

Linda Spalla, G.M. at Ch. 19 recently told a person in the media, and it has been widely repeated since then...."WHNT's MAIN GOAL is to beat WAAY-TV into a pulp." To quote from "Home Improvement", No, Linda, I DON'T THINK SO. But that seems to be their mission. OUR...


Mission Statement of
Ch. 31 - WAAY-TV

To produce RATINGS and REVENUE in increasing amounts to support a healthy growth of the station and the employees.

RATINGS come from staisfied viewers that view our programming and enjoy what they watch more than other stations. The newscasts are compelling and so interesting they call others to the set to see. A solid promotion and advertising campaign adds to both the percieve and real benefits our unique strengths give to our viewers. Technical excellence aids this satisfaction.

REVENUE is generated from advertising sales and must always exceed expenses. Clients who see results from their advertising, reaching more people for less dollars will always pay top price to be on our station.

NEWS: To fight to remian the station more people in the Tennessee Valley turn to for News, Sports, Weather & Special Event programming. We must continue to build, innovate, grow and perfect our methods and style. We have to stay informed of the wishes and needs of our largest audience segments. We have to be VIEWER focused.

IMAGE: That we are always available, 24 hours a day, to satisfy the largest segment of needs for information, while providing entertainment, sometimes blending entertainment with information. We are the most alert, capable and responsive news organization exceeding expectations of a station our size.

ENGINEERING: To provide support for all technical aspects of our station. To keep all operating equipment at the best state of repair so as to be as reliable as new. To innovate with new technology, while keeping costs as low as possible.

SALES: To produce revenues in increasing amounts meeting or exceeding operating costs adjusted on a yearly basis. To provide customer results that exceed expectations and to continue to find innovative ways to blend their needs with what the station can deliver.

PRODUCTION: To provide superior on-air productions with highly trained and skilled people. To generate commercial and station recorded messages that are outstanding in both presentation and results generated. To present a total on-air image that is clearly superior to the competition.

STAFF: To remember that every job is very important or it would not exist. To look for better ways to do every single job on a continuous basis. To be open to change as ways to keep the work interesting and benefitting the total effort of the station every day. We must work as teams within departments and with other departments as well.

PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT: Recognizing that each staff member has needs for career advancement and financial security. To stimulate and assist every person to grow and become skilled at new areas of work on a continuing basis. To aggressively pay our staff for innovative, motivated and improved work. To have deserving staff members enjoy the fruits of our combined successes.

LEADERSHIP: To develop increasing numbers of leaders and trainors. To know that leadership is the ability to enlist the willing cooperation of others to achieve desired results.

1. CHANGE. Story of the lily pads in the lake, doubling until on the 30th day it exactly fills the lake. How much of the lake did it occupy on the 29th day? (Half) Regarding change, we are on the 29th day. It is easily possible that three years from now, society and our economy and certainly our industry (TV) could undergo as much change as it has in the last 10 years. Three years from TODAY, we might look back at the TV business and long for the good, old days when things moved as such a slow pace. Competition was manageable. Our abilities could be truly satisfactory with less than half the efforts required in 1997.

In the 70's, Organizations said they could satisfactorily get by with:
	No Change --- 60 %
    Sporadic, Incremental change --- 35 %
    Continuous, Overlapping change --- 5 %

In the 90's, Organizations said they could satisfactorily get by with:
	No Change --- 1 %
    Sporadic, Incremental change --- 24 %
    Continuous, Overlapping change --- 75 %

Even solutions to today's problems, have a much shorter "Shelf-Life" than ever before. Relate story from page 45 and 46 from "Managing at the Speed of Change" (Miners in the Dark, but one had a spare, stick match he always carried in a container) Today's solution may not work tomorrow.

The way to be successful in the 90's is to Change the Way WE Handle CHANGE. It takes flexible and resilient people to understand and use to their advantage the changes in the workplace, industry and certainly, their own lives. It can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be.

The way to prevent becoming a victim of it, is to be involved with it. Embrace it. Be a part of it.

2. IDEAS. There are many cases of brilliant ideas poorly executed and the result was a total failure. How do we improve the execution of new ideas? We GET YOUR input on them. We need ideas from staff on how to accomplish a lot of things better, easier, different. Name Tag ideas that have come from staff are going to result in a very nice customized logo ID, that you may wear proudly off the job if you wish.

3. Cover ratings information on newscasts. We were happy with the results.... but we need to not be lulled into a false sense of security. Ratings are like a big battleship changing course... when you notice it's off course, it's way too late to start making corrections. It takes a LONG time with a lot of pressure to change it back. We can't wait until we see bad news in the ratings. We have to continue to BEAR down NOW... while we still have a competative advantage.

4. LOSE the CHAFF. In separating the good wheat from what is not, you keep shuffling the mix around until the chaff floats to the top and is discarded. We have to do the same with functions, procedures, policies and even some people. In the kind of environment we are working toward at 31, we have to have everyone pulling their weight.

5. COMMUNICATION. Must be more effective and more people oriented, but goal driven as well. IWWCW...In What Ways Can We . . . ." accomplish more with same or less. "People forget the words you use, but they never forget how you made them feel." Our body language, tone and inflection of voice transmits much more than the actual words themselves. But some words transmit powerful feelings, especially negative ones. Better leave angry words unsaid. People also understand different things than were actually said. Cactus told me of two good ole boys walking in front of the Old Time Hardware store on the square in Scottsboro on First Monday...and there was a sign in the window of the hardware read: "CAST IRON SINKS". So this one guy said to the other one...."Heck, any darn fool knows that!" Other people's attitudes at the time are important, too. You say to a woman who is having a really BAD day..."That's a pretty dress you have on today." and She retorts...."What the devil was wrong with the one I had on yesterday."

Teamwork is vitally important to our efforts and reaching our goals. We can't allow poor communications and communicating problems to affect us. There are been quite a few hurt feelings and anger of late, due to people saying one thing and it gets taken to mean another thing. Talk things out...and not when you are angry. God Made you with TWO ears and just ONE mouth. You should LISTEN TWICE as much as you TALK. Do you remember someone in your past who REALLY, REALLY listened to you? How did it make you FEEL? That's the very important point here.

6. TEAMWORK. Two plus Two is greater than Four. Teams that are empowered, get faster and better results.

6A. Don't be afraid to fail. It's OK to make a mistake (as long as it doesn't sink the ship.) READ "DON'T BE AFRIAD"

7. Remember the doubling of a penny a day for 30 days. First day 1 day 2 day 4 cents... etc. Finally how much at the end of 30 days? Anyone know? A millionaire. ($ 5,368,709.00) but for the first two weeks you would only have earned a couple hundred dollars. Don't quit!

Leadership in the 90's is like putting yourself in a foxhole with several of your employees. All your lives depend on your best combined actions. Leaders want to hear what the others think. What their ideas are. As a member, each person knows that their ideas will be accepted in the spirit of cooperation and looking for the best combined answer(s). They are not intimidated by the leader, but see that person as there to help just as much as everybody else. But remember what writer H.L. Mencken said, " For every complex problem in the world, there exists a simple solution - which is almost always wrong." You first solution is often NOT the best solution. Keep on going from there. Keep on finding better solutions, even if you have to implement the first one right now. Stopping just short of GOALS and accomplishments is for the competition to do. We don't give up around here.

FUN: There should always be an element of fun and enjoyment about the job, even if it is stressful at times. Everyone should have parts of their job that makes it fun to come to work each day. If not... you should discuss it with your dept. head or with me.

(THE PROBLEM SOLVING FORM....4 part form large and small sets) 
1.	What is the problem?
2.	What are all the causes of the problem?
3.	What and all the possible solutions of the problem?
4.	What is the BEST solution to the problem?
 Use the suggestion box if you wish to be anonymous, or take to your dept. head. 

* TRAINING. To be all that you can be and more, we ALL must seek additional training. Ask for it. Seek it. Find it. Let us help. "You have to have a high attitude before you can reach a high ALTITUDE." That's an old Navy Pilot saying.

We are in this boat together. Whether IT wins the boat race or loses...or even sinks, is up to all of us. It's up to Me and each and every one of you. My commitment is to steer this ship at full steam, full course ahead. I am proud to have each one of you aboard.

© 2003 Smith Broadcasting, Inc. [update 3-12-2004]