Being Editor is a lot of responsibility – at the end of the day if there is no magazine that goes out, that’s on me. I am in charge of ensuring every editorial page is full – more than 60 percent of the books.
Because of the immense responsibility that goes along with that, I personally find it incredibly difficult to allow anyone else to do anything. I know that if I am in charge of finding all of the columnists, and all of the features, as well as the back interview that there will be no blank pages. I’m confident in myself and my ability to coordinate all of the content – a confidence that unfortunately doesn’t transfer to the rest of my staff’s abilities.
I am still learning to navigate the role of Editor – still trying different systems to see what works best with my fellow editors to ensure accountability as well as a shared work load. Currently, we are trying out a goals document. On a Friday I will sit down and write out all of the different things I want to be accomplished the following week, and then assign them to certain people. I like the idea of this because it gives everyone a clear picture of what does and what does not need to be accomplished.
Unfortunately, when I’ve done this in the past, there have still be incidents where tasks were ignored for tasks that others deemed more important. So coming up with a consequences process is still something that I need to develop.
When determining goals, I believe it is important to have an equally shared workload – it would personally frustrate me if I worked under someone who just sat in their office watching youtube while I do all the busy work for the magazines.
Open communication on what each person is working on is key to preventing resentment.
Now that I have a ~mostly~ full staff, we can have meetings once again. Something that I have participated in, but haven’t actually ran, is a foraging* meeting. We go over runsheets, and each staff member presents the projects they have been foraging for features, by presenting contact sheets and the status of communication. What is key here is that every person must have 2-3 viable projects for each book – over-foraging creates a better magazine simply because it allows us more choices in content. Again, the follow-through here would be consequences for lacking viable content. Definitely something that I need to keep mulling over.
It is important to have consequences, repercussions, as well as rewards for these sorts of things, but it is also important in my opinion to have strategies for improvement. Helping your staff do a better job should always be a priority when running a department. A possible solution would be to create a system with the staff as a team that delivers consequences while simultaneously creating solutions and improvements. Something my dad used to do with me all the time, is we would discuss what consequences we thought were fair after reviewing the ‘crimes’ so to speak. That way there is a fuller level of understanding, as well as active involvement in better improving office systems and a more democratic environment.
Strategies for sharing the workload for a control freak editor –
- Create a weekly goals document to keep staff accountable to tasks at hand.
- Have in person meetings to review progress of foraging.
- Discuss and design consequences and ways to improve systems with staff.
- Implement strategies for repercussions and improvement with staff that fails to meet the goals allotted for them.
*Foraging is a termed coined by veteran Peninsula Publishing editors to describe the process of finding stories and content to feature.