QUESTION: I am a new programmer and I am really struggling with airchecking my announcers. I am on the air and I remember when I was airchecked by PDs and Consultants. I hated it. I used to sit there in fear, ready for them to list all the things that I did badly or could have done better. Whenever I knew an aircheck was coming, I’d try my hardest to have a great show and that extra pressure only made my shows worse. My experience was so bad that I wanted to make the airchecks I did better. I don’t list of all the mistakes or missed opportunities my team make but I do give them a few things they didn’t do well. I try and deliver the news quickly and positively but they still seem to be more demotivated when they leave. I am worried I am making my team worse. What else can I do to make these airchecks better?
ANSWER: We have all been there! Coaching isn’t something you can just do, it’s something you need to learn and then constantly fine tune. Acknowledging your effects on the team is a really positive start.
Across our industry personalities are frequently subjected to a coaching mistake – critiques where programmers focus only on the talent’s failings and weaknesses. This type of coaching never makes for a positive difference. It’s a myth that fixing someone’s weaknesses will significantly help improve their performance. At best, improving a weakness tends to only advance someone to an adequate level. They may achieve mediocrity, but never exceptional performance.
It is my belief that people’s potential for growth comes from discovering and developing their strongest skills, attributes and prevalent talents. Building on someone’s strengths puts them in the best position to significantly improve their performance.
Think about what strengths are for a moment; “Strengths are capacities a person has which they are instinctively good at and which energize them when practiced.” People are naturally going to be more motivated when they work on enhancing their strengths. It’s a lot easier to invest time and effort into something you enjoy and are already good at.
When you think about the best performers — in any field — you can immediately reel off a list of the things they do exceptionally well. After you have exhausted that list, you can find a fault or two. No-one is perfect. Everyone has weaknesses, even those delivering world class performances. The reason those weaknesses do not hurt the world class performers is that their strengths are so profound.
When you are working with talent, help them identify their strengths and begin a coaching plan to make those strengths even more profound. Here are some questions that may help get the conversation started:
- What do you love doing on air?
- What things come easy to you?
- What things do you look forward to doing on air?
- What things do other people say you do well?
- What parts of your on air performance energize you?
The best coaching conversations are centered around discovering and building upon people’s passions and strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses and shortcomings. Developing someone’s strengths creates peaks in their performance, and your goal should be to raise the amplitude of those peaks.
Trying to fix weaknesses is the biggest coaching mistake you can make. Put your effort into building upon someone’s strengths to allow them to stand out and differentiate themselves.
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