Welcome to the PIT List!

I'm a network field producer who also worked in local tv as a line producer and field producer. Over the years, I have had the great fortune to work with super people. Now I'd like to pass along what I know and rant a tad.

"Dear Maggie..." pitlist@gmail.com
I check it sporadically, but I love answering emails, so if you have an issue or difficult person you need help with, don't hesitate to shoot it my way.

Maggie L

Maggie L
One of the rare times I'm in the office

Friday, August 31, 2007

Don't Keep Your Mouth Shut

Difficult discussions are tough but not having them makes it worse. An example. When I worked as a show producer, there was a reporter who always came in late. Given that I was coming in early, eating lunch as my desk and getting paged during bathroom breaks, watching this person stroll in later and later every day made me hot under the collar. But did I say anything? You bet I did not. I kept my mouth shut and let it build day after day. Then, one day, we needed the reporter to get out on a story right after they got in the door. Instead, they sat down at their desk and started surfing the net. The conversation that followed went something like this:

Me: What are you doing?! You need get out the door.
Reporter: Hello? It's a little thing I like to call research.

And here is where all those weeks of biting my tongue came to bite me in the a^&.

Me: Perhaps we could have done our research if we had decided to show up to work on time. Now, I need you to head out the door.

It was completely inappropriate and I caught hell for it later. Deservedly. Sitting in my boss' office, I still didn't get it.

Boss: So you were upset about the reporter being late.
Me: Yes!
Boss: Did you ever tell the reporter that this was a problem?
Me: I have to tell somebody they're supposed to show up to work on time!?!? Come on!
Boss: If you've allowed the behavior to go on without saying anything, you've created an atmosphere that says it's ok. Then today, suddenly it's not?

I got it. It was an excellent lesson for me to learn. If you have an issue, any issue, whether it's with someone you supervise, a co-worker, or someone who supervises you, you gotta say something. The first day I saw this reporter stroll in late, I should have pulled them aside and said, "I expect you to be here at XYZ time." No big deal.

Ditto with show issues. I find group post-show discussions counter-productive. It's much better to talk with the key person or persons involved, separately, and say "Hey, what happened with XYZ?" and not "Why did you screw up my beautiful show? I was going to send that one out on my resume tape!"

It's hard, but try not to come to these discussions with emotion or judgement. You could be dead wrong about what you think happened. When you listen to what someone has to say, actually hear them. DO NOT EVER have these kinds of conversations when you are ticked. It will be a pointless exercise. It is absolutely ok to put off these talks until you are calm. You can say something like, "I'd love to talk with you about this, but not right now. How about tomorrow, at such and such time?"

It's hard to bring up issues. It can be agonizing to anticipate these discussions and uncomfortable to actual have them. I think women, in particular, swallow their anger and don't say anything. That doesn't help you and it doesn't give the other person a chance to explain and/or correct their behaviour. Most people want to do a good job. If you never tell them something is wrong, you deny them the full opportunity to work well with you.

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