Creating a Winning Culture By Andy Meadows

When stations are underperforming, either from a listenership or revenue stand-point, its typically clear to everyone involved that something needs to change. Generally, we all start by either making programming changes or tweaking the sales strategy and approach because those tend to be the most obvious culprits. Plus, they’re easy to change. It’s not that hard to find another on-air talent, another station voice, adjust the music, change up our rates, media kits or sales tactics. But, the thing we often overlook is the culture within the building. If we don’t have a winning culture none of those other changes will make much of an impact and the vicious cycle of blow up, build, repeat will continue. 

But, how do we know if we’ve created a winning culture or not? Well, there are certainly some signs to look for. Winning cultures have strong leadership throughout the organization, they hold each other and themselves accountable, they take ownership and responsibility for their mistakes instead of making excuses and pointing fingers, they take pride in doing things the right way instead of the easy way and they’re well-structured and organized so everyone knows who they answer to. Maybe its because we’re an industry in transition trying to figure out how to adapt in a digital age, but for some reason there are a lot of radio groups that don’t even have an organizational chart, or if they do its almost as confusing as not having one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked, ‘Who’s their boss?’ only to be told ‘Uh… I don’t really know.’ In my opinion, having a clearly defined company structure is step one for creating a winning culture. Step 2 is finding the right balance of leaders versus followers, positive people versus negative nellies and team players versus self-serving people. As long as there’s strong leadership throughout the ranks that holds people accountable and clearly defines the big picture priorities, an organization can withstand different types of employees and personality types provided its fairly well balanced. Because, even the people who are only out for themselves can be made to see that what’s good for the company as a whole is ultimately what’s best for them as individuals too. It’s a whole lot easier to get a raise when a station is killing it in the ratings and revenues are up. 

Unfortunately, unlike sports where your face to face with your opponent every single game getting hard evidence on how you stack up to the competition, in radio our battles are much more subtle and behind the scenes. Because of that the culture we’ve created isn’t as noticeable in day to day operations, but it becomes very visible on major projects or anything big we try to pull off. 

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