Article Date: 1/1/2011

The Glamour of Being the Boss

The Glamour of Being the Boss

What happens when a “non-manager” is thrown into a management position?

From the Editorial Director
Jim Thomas

In my third year of college, I was appointed editor in chief of the campus newspaper. Prior to that moment, I never experienced such a rush of adrenaline. From creating a system of news coverage that would captivate readers to leading the paper's staff to excellence, the show was all mine. Or so I thought.

The initial excitement soon gave way to the realities of management. Certainly, I expected some administrative tasks, but what I found was a tidal wave of budgets, planning, scheduling, meetings, supply requisitions, invoice approvals (including my first experiences with the challenges of coding) and marketing. The glamour of publishing faded, as I found myself hand delivering the newspapers to stands on campus.

What the people want

And, as you might have guessed, none of the other management duties compared with the fine art of dealing with people. The college officers thought the newspaper should provide in-depth coverage of plans to expand the campus. Administrative Services suggested the staff devote the day minding finance-related items. The journalist advisors wanted me to take several hours coaching freshman reporters and digging for “real news” on campus. Reporters were reluctant to take any assignment that might interfere with classes. The staff brought me all their complaints in the hopes I had a quick fix (I didn't). In addition, I had to worry about what my readers wanted in a paper.

My definition of management became “being pulled in 20 different directions at the same time.” I was left wondering, how do you put the pieces together, and still please all the people all the time?

The first lesson

I remembered how other chief editors seemed to do the job so effortlessly, so I hunted down the previous chief in the hopes that he would reveal his secrets.

“Whatever secrets I have are hiding in plain sight,” he told me.

After a 15-minute discussion, I appointed a business manager who was happy to take care of the finances, as she was a business/accounting major. No one wanted to deliver papers, but I got a volunteer who agreed to be circulation manager (whose main job was delivering papers). The managing editor took over the staff scheduling. In short, it was my first real lesson in delegation.

That left only one question. “And how do I get things to work so everyone's happy?” I asked.

“Figure that one out, and we'll all be coming to you for the answers,” he told me. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: January 2011