There is one aspect of the rat race that I never relished. Human resources. Managing people. It may be the hardest task a manager has. Without being successful with that task, however, you literally cannot be successful in your overall goals. Gaining buy-in from your staff, helping your staff to achieve the organization’s and their goals , dealing with what seems like petty problems, assuaging bruised egos, there’s a whole gamut of challenges in the managing-your-staff realm.
I have always dreaded the response from a staff member for an action I’ve taken that I perceived they might not appreciate. If confronted, it means articulating what your reasons were for the action, why it is a better alternative than theirs, dealing patiently with the argumentative behavior that is sure to follow, and then being comfortable enough with your actions to finally just say “enough.”
The whole process has been known to keep me up at night.
One time, when I had to fire someone, the HR director said she would do it, but the person was on my staff (although not a team player) and I thought that if he had to go it was my responsibility to tell him. Afterward, I went outside and worked hard not to lose my lunch.
But keeping good people motivated and productive may be even tougher.
Here in Nevis, I find myself in a difficult position. I have an owner/editor who lives in another country and who I talk with 2-3 times a week for a total of five minutes. I have a managing editor who lives on another island and who I haven’t met yet. Likewise for staff on St. Kitts.
Here on Nevis, I have a reporter who has no journalism training, who has admitted she took the position because she needed a job, but who, despite her inexperience, complains when I change a lead on her article, or do a minor rewrite. “You don’t understand how things go here,” she said recently to my changing the lead on her badly written article. To which I replied, “But I know how to write.” Maybe brutal, but you have to understand the underlying arrogance that was being exhibited.
I have a young man who is responsible for updating the website who is so laid back you can hardly see him moving. He speaks so softly and in such a slur, that I have difficulty understanding him. He moves at his own pace unless I complain to the boss.
The graphics person seems willing enough, but he has not been trained in publication design. He works only part-time.
And the receptionist is possibly the least friendly person I have ever met.
I wonder if my being white has anything to do with the inertia I am experiencing from these people. I don’t think they like whites here, for the most part. Or it could just be that I’m the fourth person in the role this year.
I try to recall if I have had similar experiences with staff in the past, and if so, what did I do? Replacing someone is a Catch 22, because with a population of 50,000, there just aren’t that many journalists and Web and graphic people to choose from. So you have to make do.
Like I said, it’s not my favorite part of a job.
I had intended to wait until Saturday morning to go to the “wet” market downtown, where fresh vegetables, fruits and, I think, seafood and maybe meat products are offered by local producers. Saturday morning is supposed to be the busiest time, but I was in town today (Friday) and decided to walk through the market in the middle of the afternoon. There were quite a few vegetable/fruit vendors still open, so I went about stocking up – green peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, bananas. They also had other local fruits (mangos, pineapple, etc.), eggplant, green beans, onions, squashes, avocado and even rosemary. I hope to go again in the morning to see what seafood is available.
Managed to spend a couple hours on Pinney’s Beach at the end of the work day today (Friday). There were only two of us still working (Troy, sort of) when I went home at 4:15 because they Internet went down.
The beach was virtually empty, the sky was cloudy, nice breeze blowing from the volcano at my back.
I still do not have the type of tackle I think I need to fish here. Ordered some aerators on the Internet but they won’t arrive for maybe 3 weeks. I need those when I get a cast net and start catching bait. Still trying to find one online that will be delivered here but may have to buy the one that I’ve found in town for about $114. Expensive hobby.
My strategy so far has been to throw an artificial to catch small fish for live or cut-up bait, but tonight I had no luck. But it was a nice night on a quiet beach, with classic rock in my ears, a brandy and Diet Coke in hand, warm lapping waves at my feet. No fish, no problem. But I will figure it out.