Finance and Administration
Rather than list a lot of facts and figures about the 15 years of budgets I formulated and executed for WTMD, I thought I tell you about some of the tools I use to develop my financial philosophy.
Many of these tools might give you the impression I'm overly conservative. That's not always true. Sure I develop best-expected-worst scenarios, but I've budgeted for long term asset growth, like new signals and durable assets.
So here are my favorite tools to move a station up to the next level.
I love Live Plan. It's easiest to use financial planning tool. It's built to be a full business plan complete with marketing and research sections.But's strength is projecting out years based on logical assumptions that can be changed at any piont in time. Say your key employee demands a raise or he walks. Simply plug in the new number and the anticipated annual increases and you have a new personal cost including benefits.Let's say your university cuts funding three year out. Read The Plan.
This took gives you the full look at how much you have to raise, and when, to make sure you don't miss a beat. It's a great scenario tool.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
There is one management book I live by. Essentialism, the Disciplined Art of Doing Less by Greg Mckeown changed they way I managed staff and looked at our bottom line.
We went though a significant training session based on the book. From that came a ethic the whole staff could guide their activities by "We will engage only in activities that contribute to the long terms sustainability of WTMD. It worked as we increased revenues.
Chase Ink Business Prefered Credit Card
I love collecting credit card points for business and personally. I was able to reduce travel costs for recurring travel by 20% AND was able to send additional staff who don't normally attend conferences or other events with little to no added expense.
What makes the Chase Ink Business Preferred Card so attractive is the bonus categories. You earn 3 points per dollar spent on cable TV services, phone services, social media advertising buys, restaurants, hotel and other travel expenses. Plus their on line card management system allows you to track staff membersspending and set limits and such.
Just don't get caught in a first class seat by the CPB IG!
Charting Staff Progress
You'll notice this section is not called employee evaluation. Nothing creates anxiety in a person's mind than an email with the title "Employee Evaluation." Everyone starts freaking out. How much of raise will I get? Did I screw up this year? Should I start looking for another job?
I bypass all that uncertainty with a more reliable employee achievement process. It's a little more complex than an annual form filling out session, but I feel it increases the organization's speed in achieving goals.
I focus on two types of goals. Organizational and personal. The staff is heavily involved in setting both.
The process begins with a series of all staff meetings to review the previous year's organizational goals and set new ones for the next year.
Staff is asked to analyze the KPIs we've agreed on and perform a SWOT analysis for the station, their department and for themselves. Department heads bring these documents to a senior staff meeting for review and then an all staff meeting is held to find the three to five major goals we need to focus on.
Budgeting is done to determine how much revenue we'll need to accomplish the goals including staffing, salary adjustments and organizational structure.
Then I meet with my direct reports and they with theirs. By the time we get to individual meetings, each staff member know what they did to contribute to a goal's outcome. They've had discussions with their peers and determined why something did or didn't work.
From there each staff member is free to set a strategy for their own goals that I monitor with them at their weekly check in meetings. Often goal sheets are put aside, but ours are taped to the cover of the notebook I keep for each direct report.
An easy example is membership. Let's say we need to make, and everyone has agreed, that we need 10% more in membership to achieve our expense goals. Membership, having reviewed their data is free to decide which metric to work on to achieve it. They might focus on new members or increased annual gifts or elevating sustainers by $2 a month. It's their choice about how to get there. I pretty much stay out of those decisions unless I see significant flaws with their analysis--that's rare.
I believe through this process each staff member is objectively able to own their strengths and weaknesses without the emotional nature of traditional employee evaluations. We're able to identify professional development needs to strengthen weaknesses and create teams with the maximum strengths to achieve a goal.
No process is perfect and no person is perfect, so while this system reduces staff stress, I still have to counsel some staff members through personal growth episodes, but this greatly reduces blaming others for failures, grabbing credit for others ideas and other and other headaches.