Critical Condition

Let’s hope it’s not too late

I can’t tell whether today’s air talent gets less coaching or less effective coaching, but I think almost everyone in our business would agree this has been an issue for ages.

Program Directors have so much on their plates today, they often rarely hear their own station. Make that stations, as very few run only one today.

Even when they make a concerted effort to listen, critically — meaning, as a listener would — many have not been trained in the art and science of delivering criticism.

It’s definitely a skill that can be learned, and like all skills, you get better the more often you practice.

No other industry would expect its members to consistently improve without some sort of feedback loop that can be trusted, relied upon to help one accurately measure what’s working and what’s not.

Nielsen does not measure engagement. It does not measure emotional reaction. PPM does not always measure the effectiveness of your attempts to entertain.

And yet our industry usually lets PPM coach our talent. Good numbers usually equal less coaching. No wonder we hear what we hear everywhere.

Accepting criticism of our work is difficult, for all of us, and there’s a lot of scientific evidence that it’s almost impossible for us to hear it when it is badly delivered.

So I offer the Rosenberg Nonviolent Communication method as a resource for you.

3039412 inline nonviolent communication process

It offers you a framework that, at the least, will help you deliver and receive critical feedback.

It works just as well on your relationships outside of the station as those inside it, and that offers you lots more ways to practice using it. I’m happy to help you walk through it if it seems confusing.

Yesterday’s post noted the success of The Voice, especially because it offers examples, every week, of effective coaching.

When someone who has already achieved success in the music industry offers suggestions — specific feedback — and the singers being coached hear the difference, the defensive wall most of us erect to protect our ego lowers.

If you’re the coach, understand what you must bring to each session to be most effective:

3039412 inline criteria for effective feedback

We need better coaches and better coaching. Both require a commitment from the company to allocate the time necessary to achieve results.

We need to find ways to consistently and accurately measure engagement and emotional impact.

Because without better content between the songs, we’re in a race we cannot win under our current methods of operation.