I was speaking to a young man who recently got out of TV news after 5 years. He is smart and talented and won awards in his short time as a reporter. When I asked why he left the business he said it was because he asked his managers if he could try a different role; a leadership role in the newsroom.
He wanted to become a manager.
He says the answer was “no”. It was “no” because he was so valuable and created so much content in the role he was in, they couldn’t afford to lose him.
They lost him anyway.
Maybe that was meant to be. Maybe not.
I speak to managers, who are good friends, about how to keep their best employees. It’s complicated, of course with egos, budgets, and all.
Still, I think the best managers find ways to “dare” the talented employees they want to keep; give them new opportunities and challenges to grow.
Some think it’s remarkable I stayed at one tv station for 28 years but I think that happened in part because I was managed along the way by some smart men and women who liked to “dare” me.
I had one boss who always gave me “mission impossible” assignments early in my career.
He knew I loved a challenge and if I could bring back the “mission impossible” story 50% of the time he was ecstatic. I loved working for him.
There were reporting trips to two Olympics and travel to the Middle East; perks for a reporter itching for bigger assignments.
I had another who encouraged me to venture into the publishing world and I helped three women in Connecticut write their first book, Simple Steps. It was based on a story I was assigned.
Another boss, held the nice shiny object of an investigative team in front of me just as I was looking at a jump to the network. I was sent to investigative conferences that thrilled me and I always came back excited and motivated to try something new.
And when I was stuck and not very motivated to learn how to tweet and Facebook and shoot and edit, when my investigative team was being dismantled and there were major changes in the newsroom, that same boss “saved me”. He said Yes when I asked to go back to school, to teach school, to host an entertainment show and to go on “a year of firsts” adventure while I was working full time.
That year changed everything for me, resulting in my book “I Dare Me”.
I stayed at NBC10 another 5 years after that journey of firsts, using my new skills to help lead the newsroom on major stories.
Nearly 28 years I stayed.
It could have ended in 3 or 5. I was not prone to stay in the same place for very long before I came to Philadelphia. But, all along the way, I happened to be given new opportunities to grow. Raises helped but it was never just about money. Even when I was offered other opportunities to leave, a smart manager allowed me to go interview and then dangled a better “dare” to stay.
I now help launch students into the same business I left behind. Some of the managers who hire them worry they will train their new employees and they will leave too quickly. Perhaps.
But I believe they are more likely to stay longer if you “dare” them with assignments and challenges that offer a chance to expand personally, creatively and as a professional.
Your best employees don’t leave something when they are intrigued, engaged and valued. They leave when they are bored and dissatisfied when they are told “no” every time they ask to try something new.
Meanwhile, my young friend is in grad school, daring himself to get a degree in media management. Ha! Maybe we’ll get him back in the industry after all.