Airchecks Exposed Part 3 by Paul Kaye


 Airchecks Exposed! Talent Share The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Truths Of Airchecking! – Part 3



By Paul Kaye

PSR Contributor


August 11th, 2015


“The team with the best players wins!” I strongly believe in those words from Jack Welch. Most of the GMs, PDs and executives I have worked with have often echoed these thoughts with bold declarations like “our people are our most valuable assets.” I suspect that the majority of our industry holds the same belief. Yet if we are judged by our actions and not by our words, I suspect we would fall short. If our people can make the difference to our business’ success, the question I challenge everyone to honestly answer is: “Am I spending enough nurturing, developing and growing my team?”

The aim of Airchecks Exposed is to provide some insight into effective aircheck sessions in the hope we can better understand how to develop our talent. Over the last couple of weeks we have been on a journey exploring the good, the bad & the ugly of airchecking. We spoke to talent across multiple countries — the US, Canada, UK and Middle East — to understand from their perspective ‘the dreaded aircheck.’

This week we asked our talent panel…. What’s the biggest mistake a PD/Coach has made while working with you?

“I had a PD throw a coffee mug at my head. If I hadn’t turned and moved at the last second, he’d of brained me.”

There are lots of idiots in the world. This PD was clearly one of them! There is no excuse for this type of behavior. People who operate in this way are nothing but bullies. They rule through fear. If you work for someone like this, speak up or move on.

“The female boss that told me I didn’t look right for morning radio as my look wasn’t aspirational enough for our morning show marketing campaign…”

And there’s another PD that simply gives the rest of us a bad name!

“I remember one PD used to come in for our daily meeting with stacks of notes on everything he had hated about the show. He made us listen back to everything and then took us through his huge list of things we had to change. It was always a one sided conversation”

It’s a fact…bad managers give orders. They are directive – telling employees what to do, without any explanation or context. They are all about “command and control.” Bad PD’s tell. Good PD’s explain why. Great PD’s go beyond this; they engage the talent in figuring out how to improve performance in a collaborative way.

The goal of coaching I believe is best summed up in this definition: “Unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” People development works best through inspiration, not authority.

“One PD destroyed my confidence as every time we met they’d constantly say things like “you aren’t funny,”“you aren’t as good as X,”“you aren’t strong enough with callers.” I used to leave the station every day disappointed and ashamed of myself.”

In airchecks, it is essential to separate the person from the performance. The coach’s role is to help the individual improve aspects of their performance. Feedback must be constructive, non-threatening and work-focused rather than person focused. With the

right mindset, discipline, self awareness and time, people can improve their behaviors and skills. If you want to maintain a relationship of trust and respect with the coachee, focus only on their behaviors and skill gaps. One of the insights we took away from our talent panel is that talent want to succeed and want to make their manager’s happy. You just need to help them do that.

“My PD used to be a morning jock (they weren’t that good!) and spent all their time telling me what they would have done with my topics and bits. They used to send me a list of prep I had to be talking about.”

Coaching is about facilitating the performance, learning and development of another. The process is about the talent. It’s not a competition with the talent. As a coach you aren’t the star. There is no room for your ego in this process. There is something called ‘The Knowledge Trap’ which is the false idea held by managers that they must know more than others on their team and ultimately have the final say. It is often present in coaching sessions. Avoid this at all costs!

Great coaches love to teach. Be focused on helping talent become the best versions of themselves.

“The ones who kiss your ass don’t help either, meaning you can NEVER improve on something”

I am a believer in positive psychology. Positivity is an important factor in delivering winning performances. However, positive praise that lacks specifics can be fatal. It is crucial for development that talent understand why something was good, in order for them to repeat the behavior. Passionate and dedicated people want to succeed, and to achieve that they have to be making continual improvements in their performance. Phrases like “good show,” “I loved that bit at 8:20” don’t give the talent anything tangible to understand, evaluate and repeat. Whether your feedback is positive or constructive, it needs to be specific in order for it to be effective.

In an earlier edition of Airchecks Exposed we highlighted the importance of honesty when working with talent. Confidence is built by improving ones skills, not from unspecific praise that is nothing more than cheerleading. Talent wants — no, needs you to be honest in your feedback; not simply telling them what they want to hear.

“Failed to gain my trust.”

The word “trust” came up a lot during our journey into “the dreaded aircheck.” It is simple really; the moment a person is not trusted by an individual or team, their chances for success with that group are dramatically diminished. There are many levels to trust, but some of the most important that a coach must demonstrate to the coachee are:

  1. Technical competence – know what you’re talking about
  2. Character – have impeccable integrity and honesty
  3. Interpersonal skills – handle information given to you with respect and confidentiality
  4. Transparency & open-ness in your business relationship
  5. “Being a person of your word” – holding yourself accountable for your actions

The worst thing a coach can do (for me personally anyway) is to tell me they didn’t like something without offering any guidance or clarification.”

There is a golden rule for airchecking; “Don’t criticize unless you can direct the talent on how to do it better.”

“Not airchecking me at all. Jocks crave feedback, no matter whether it’s good or bad, and the smallest piece of coaching advice can change an entire show sometimes.”

Research studies tell us that people want double the amount of feedback you think they want. Make airchecking a regular — and fixed – part of your working week. If “the team with the best players wins,” it makes sense to be spending most of your time developing your players.

Next time… in the final installment of Airchecks Exposed, we take a look at what qualities talent see in good coaches and offer an aircheck action plan.

About Paul Kaye

Born in England, Paul got his first PD role in the early 2000s, making him the youngest programmer in the UK at the time. After nearly a decade programming in the UK Paul moved to Canada in 2012 to work for Newcap. Paul spends his days looking after stations in the CHR, Hot-AC and Classic Hits formats and also holds the role of National Talent Development Director for the company. A role that sees him working with morning shows, on air talent, and programmers across the country to improve performance. Paul lives in Vancouver and can be reached at [email protected]


Paul’s LinkedIn

If you missed Parts I & 2 link HERE


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