Who is your 'weakest link'?


“Hire the Best Person” is a business mantra that has been around for a long time.

And yet the radio networks continue to hire mediocre people and they’re the ones who give you the most grief. Luckily the real duds usually fire themselves.

Mediocre staff don’t do enough of the bad stuff and a lot of the time they are nice people so it’s a challenge for employers to move them on.

The other problem is managers have a tendency to hire people they like and if a friendship develops, they are even harder to fire.

I once asked a network CEO why a mediocre performer still had the position of Assistant PD in a capital city.

The CEO told me that he was a good friend of the Group PD so that person survives even though the people he works with know his weaknesses and work around him, adding to their own workload.

Hiring the best person also means you don’t need as many staff because the stars pull more than their own weight.

So next time you go to hire someone, remember you don’t have to necessarily like them just make sure that they are the best person for the job.


Greg Smith is a Director of Radio Today.

Published on Friday, 27 April 2012 06:00

Anonymous(9:13am 27 Apr 2012)
Throwing some money on good people never hurts. Do the work of ten kids... self sufficiantly! job done
Anonymous(20:40pm 27 Apr 2012)
How long since you've been in management Greg?
Budgets and the lack of available talent are big factors in selection of staff these days.
It's not easy to move people on in today's workplace either.
All looks good on paper though!
dan(11:44am 28 Apr 2012)
You're being very unfair on Greg 'anonymous'. Budget and lack of talent are excuses, and not good enough ones.
If someone isn't making the grade, you have a responsibility to the business and the other staff to make the hard call as a manager, but to do so in a respectful and fair way.
bill brown(13:17pm 28 Apr 2012)
Excuses? Turn it up Dan.
Can't manufacture someone with very specific skills if they're not there, and yes budgets are restrictive.
There's also a moral responsibility in management to have concern for people.
In the big scheme of things it's radio, not life altering work!
Ford(5:08am 29 Apr 2012)
Greg is 100% right guys. Winning radio stations will find a way to get the right people on board. Nothing has changed.
dan(6:59am 29 Apr 2012)
Bill I'm not suggesting budgets aren't tight, or that it isn't difficult to find the talent. Nor am I saying we shouldn't have concern for people.

However, there is this basic principle: mediocrity shouldn't become accepted, or acceptable, and whatever roadblocks may be in the way, you address them and get the right people in the right positions.
matt(8:54am 29 Apr 2012)
I would've thought that managing means exactly that. If you're a great manager you should work with people for the desired result.
I find the term mediocrity offensive.
You guys are all about forging links with listeners, how about thinking of your employees in the same way.
A great manager should do more than take the easy way out and discard.
CB(12:03pm 29 Apr 2012)
It's an inconvenient truth Matt. Look at the winning product teams in Sydney and Melbourne, and see if you can pick out any mediocre performers. There aren't any at 2GB, 2Day, 3AW or Fox. This is a quote from Steve Jobs...

'A' star players want to work with other 'A' players. They do not want to work with the 'B' or 'C' players.

Carefully select your 'A' player. But if you then let him/her mix with the 'B' and 'C' players then he/she will feel under-valued and under-challenged. The 'B' and 'C' players will not rise to his/her level. Quite the reverse The cancerous and pervasive mediocrity of the average players will permeate the organisation.

If you believe in 'A' players then let them work with other 'A' players. Otherwise don't bother to bring them in. You'll be wasting their time and yours."
Daryl Missen(12:52pm 29 Apr 2012)
To Anonymous, Greg is a LEADER not a 'manager'. There is a big difference! I suggest if you feel you have to 'manage' your team, then that is your challenge. CB is right, make sure YOU are playing your 'A' grade game, and you'll attract 'A' grade team members. There are great and talented people on the sidelines dying to play in radio, don't make money the issue.
Keith Fowler(14:50pm 29 Apr 2012)
footy teams talk about the strength of their last six.

Jack Welsh made GE a different company by among other things replacing the worst performing 10 percent of the company yearly.

but the essence of this discussion is about how you hire not how you fire

If you pay intense attention to the process of uncovering and to hiring people who are the best and people with the aptitude attitude and focus to be the best.
If you run your company lean. Yes people have to work harder but you can pay them the money that would otherwise go weaker staff
Plus when you're lean with people who are the best or becoming the best there is less pressure to have let people go
matt(15:58pm 29 Apr 2012)
Is this 2012?
The whole tone of this article ala 'mediocre' and 'duds' is draconian and patronising.
I don't ever recall great leaders like Virgin boss Richard Branson using terms like this or being so judgemental of his staff.
It's not that clear cut. Even those who may not be performing at 100 percent in one area may bring strengths to the organisation in other facets.
It's up to the 'Leader' or even the 'Manager' to identify these strenghts and weaknesses and capitalise on them.
Judging a person as simply 'A', 'B', 'C' belongs back in the days of radio when, at 5pm Friday, it was was acceptable to advise someone " We need to let you go".
Was enjoying this site until this 1980's nonsense was posted.
East Coaster(17:01pm 29 Apr 2012)
Best people make the best stations. Unfortunately where I work I've been told by my weak GM to hire: "the best person available for the money and we won't be paying to move anyone over from Perth"

True story, Very sad.
Mark(17:15pm 29 Apr 2012)
Sorry dudes, but I'm with Matt above.

A little less reading and praising of overseas "gurus" and a little more humility and common decency needed.

Is it any wonder radio is in such decline...
Matt(18:17pm 29 Apr 2012)
Thanks Mark.
Finally a modern perspective.
Perhaps it's time for another popular 'leadership' practice to be employed here and that's to 'cut your losses' and remove this outdated claptrap
Phil(11:43am 30 Apr 2012)
Matt and Mark,

Are either of you PD's or are you simply staff who have felt the pointy end of the stick before? Humility and common decency be damned, if someone isn't doing their job and is dragging the rest of the team down then I totally agree with Dan. You have a responsibility to the industry to get rid of these people.

And regarding people as 'A', 'B' and 'C' players is not outdated claptrap. It's the truth. This isn't a team of 8 yr old footy players where everyone gets a trophy and the kid who comes last in the race gets told 'you're just the last one who won', this is a business and leaders owe it to the business to take action when folk aren't pulling their weight.

Like it or not, there are some people who just don't belong in this industry. Sad, but true.
Mark(11:53am 30 Apr 2012)
Phil, it's people like you who don't belong in the industry. I got out of it in 1997 and have no intention of coming back.

People have a right to expect and be treated with respect, compassion and decency.

Not just a fucking number. It's time all of you grew up.
Phil(12:15pm 30 Apr 2012)
Wow. You got out of the industry 15 years ago but you're still trolling radio websites telling us how we should run things. You need a wake up call. Companies (radio and otherwise) do treat their employees with respect and decency as long as you work hard for them. If you're lazy then you will recieve one warning after another until you're escorted out the door.

I can understand you being bitter but this is the cold hard truth and it sounds like you need to hear it. You have no 'rights' as you put it. That's make believe. It's a business. This isn't some kind of 'everyone's a winner' deal. Work hard or get out. And look at you. You got out. Good for you.
Mark(16:45pm 30 Apr 2012)
Hi Phil,

I'm not bitter at all - I left simply because of multiple sclerosis (both my mother and I have it) and have fought it for 16 years. I'm a fighter. But I also believe in people's rights to fairness, to be treated with respect and dignity... because people with diseases like me AREN'T.

We're treated like shit on a daily basis by able-bodied arseholes who have NFI...


And live life not worrying about management arseholes. Because sooner or later, they end up on the scrapheap and it comes back to bite them. :-)

Have a good one.
Anonymous(17:42pm 30 Apr 2012)
I would have paid money to be treated to that entertainment!! Awesome work all of you. Now just offer a buffet and open bar and all will be well with the world.
Matt(18:08pm 30 Apr 2012)
Phil, the question should be are YOU a PD?

What a joy to work for you. Stick to the mathematics because your comments signify that your people skills need some work.

For the record, I've never been sacked. Your attempt to take a perfectly valid point of view down Confusion Street hasn't worked, so toddle off and revitalise your clock. I don't desire any truth that 'I need to hear' from a self important self appointee.

The argument here is that in this age, in any industry other than radio, "Leaders" don't get away with posting offensive terminology and attitudes about their colleagues. It's time these views are pensioned off. This is not Leadership, it's "Bullship".

CRA must be delighted that their industry is represented in this fashion.
Phil(10:30am 01 May 2012)

The question 'am I a PD' is irrelevant as I'm not the one questioning this article, written by one of the best leaders/PDs this industry has ever seen. You only wish you could enjoy the success Greg has.

Confusion street? Have you ever had to work alongside someone who is doing a sub par/inadequate job? I have, and I'll tell you from experience it does drag the team down. I only wish my PD at the time would have taken the steps to dismiss said person. I am neither self important, nor self appointed, I am just like you. Having an opinion.

And the opinion is thus. You have a very thin skin if you are offended by Greg's comments. He's telling the truth. There are A players, B, C and so forth and not everyone can be an A player whether you like it or not. It doesn't matter what age you live in, this will always remain a constant. It's also not exclusive to the radio industry. Count yourself lucky you don't work in telecommunications or IT where chances are you ARE just a number.

In essence, this article is no different to one you might read in Businessweek. And I applaud Greg for his honesty and for an article that should inspire those reading to strive for better performance, to innovate and work their arses off so they can be seen as an A player. Rather than just complain about it.
Woods (15:41pm 01 May 2012)
Maybe before we jump the the weakest link option, we should also ask whether we have our best players in the best possible positions.

I have found an amazing comedy writer/performer in the copy department, and somebody who REALLY understood music working as the boss's assistant etc. The best PD I worked for used to be in promotions etc.

Identify your talented stars and ask if they are in the correct positions in your station.

 Post Anonymously 

   I am a real live breathing human person

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