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How To Say It

How To Say It

Your work’s not good enough.


I’m no longer surprised when I hear air talent tell me their supervisor never gives them feedback, that they have no idea how they’re really doing.

It’s difficult to look someone in the eye and say, “Your work’s just not good enough right now.”

And, in fairness, we creatives hate hearing that. We, in Radio, seem especially sensitive to criticism.

Still, we need to know if we’re meeting expectations, and if you supervise air talent, you need to make time to give them feedback on a regular basis.

Here’s a few ideas to soften the anxiety both talent and coach feel:

  1. Start and end with positives. Tell them what they’re doing right. Take the time to remember why you hired this talent in the first place before you start your session with them. Everyone loves to be complimented and everyone has a trait or skill worthy of praise.
  2. Be specific. This is the part that seems hardest for most supervisors. Avoid the general, and focus on the specific thing you love, that needs work, or even to be eliminated.
  3. Listen. Listen not only to their show, but listen now as they’re sitting there in front of you. Let them know they are heard.
  4. Be empathetic. Ask how you might be able to help. Maybe your talent isn’t clear about expectations. Maybe problems at home, with a marriage, or health, or finances is affecting performance. Offering support is always a good thing.
  5. Now be specific about what you expect moving forward, using concrete examples as steps that must be taken, and the timeline you want followed. Set a specific date when you’ll evaluate progress.
  6. Ask the talent to re-state what you’ve just talked about: positive and negative, steps to be taken, and the date on which you’ll evaluate progress.

We should never assume that anyone is hearing what we’re trying to say. This is true in our personal as well as professional life. Listening — active listening — is a skill that we can learn and which needs practice and modeling.

You can’t expect improvement without feedback and avoiding giving it because you don’t like that part of your job isn’t really an excuse.