While the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros engage in a battle for major league baseball supremacy, the news off of the diamond during the past week has been equally as interesting. Despite advancing to the playoffs with their respective clubs, Joe Girardi, John Farrell and Dusty Baker were each relieved of their duties as managers of the Yankees, Red Sox and Nationals.
In the case of Girardi and Farrell, they both had won a World Series title. Dusty on the other hand had managed a team which lost in the fall classic, and had just brought back to back division titles to the nation’s capital, a feat which the Nationals franchise had not accomplished before.
When moves like this occur in professional sports they happen because of a few factors. Many of which are relatable to sports radio. Here are five important items managers must take into account when overseeing a brand for an organization.
Reaching The Room – Does your message resonate with your staff? Are you seen as someone who unifies or divides people? Do you work well with multiple departments or just your assigned personnel? Are you consistently meeting with and introducing new ideas and approaches to help your people grow? Does your team exude confidence when discussing your style and abilities to others? Is your locker room willing to run thru a wall for you or are they waiting for the opportunity to give you the extra push to send you over a cliff?
Managing Up – In baseball, the manager has to have a strong connection to the front office and ownership. The same is true in radio where a PD and Market Manager must march to the same drum beat. If that sound is heard and enjoyed by corporate executives and the CEO, then you’ve got a chance to make great music together. If the collective vision though isn’t shared by all involved and the brand leader has difficulty interacting with superiors and gaining their confidence, then it’s only a matter of time until someone else is calling the shots.
Maintaining Public Confidence – In sports, each decision is scrutinized. Organizations don’t like it when misfires happen and customers lose confidence. For example, Joe Girardi drew the ire of Yankees fans for the way he mismanaged instant replay during Game 2 of the ALDS. John Farrell made Red Sox fans question the inside of the Red Sox locker room when David Price and Dennis Eckersley exchanged words on a team flight and the news trickled into the media. Dusty Baker didn’t have those problems but the Nationals’ inability to advance further in the postseason made fans feel like it’s the same old story.
In radio, if an on-air talent or brand leader says or does the wrong thing on or off the air, it can cost a station listeners and ad dollars. For example, if you look at ESPN’s recent issues, it’s raised many questions about the network’s talent, executives and policies. That can lead to less confidence from viewers and advertisers. Maintaining a strong brand image and keeping black clouds away from your organization are part of the job. How you handle each situation determines how quickly people will defend or bail on you at the first sign of trouble.
The Financial Bullseye – If you’re managing a team, whether in baseball or radio, if you’re making a sizable wage the expectations are going to be higher. Organizations pay closer attention to those they’re investing significant dollars in. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to fatten your wallet and receive your full worth but with great earnings comes greater responsibility. The more you make, the larger the target on your back. Anything less than championships or ratings wins and the noise increases about the security of your position.
Can You Win It All – Being competitive is a given. Getting maximum effort and contributions from your key people displays leadership. Being strategic, smart, creative and relentless in your pursuit provides evidence of how badly you want to win and what you’re doing to try and reach the ultimate destination. But even if your game plan and work ethic are good and the talent you’ve assembled are exceptional, there are still no guarantees. The members at the top of your organization don’t want to hear why your ratings or revenues are down or why you lost to the other team. They put you in power and gave you the tools and their trust with the understanding that you’d deliver victories.
Whether it’s fair or not, sports and radio are competitive businesses. Results are all that matter. Maybe the other station has a better signal, stronger marketing, a 2-3 decade head start or better talent. The question your leaders are going to ask you is “how do you plan to overcome that and emerge victorious?” Nobody’s going to argue that your competition has a few advantages. That exists in every business. What they’re going to expect though is that you’ll find a way to win in spite of it. If not, they’ll soon be doing it without you.