Saturday, March 28, 2009

I'm back in Belgrade, my last day here before returning home.

This has been a good trip. Perhaps it's that I finally have a better understanding of what and how to do in my instruction. Maybe there is a realization among participants that it is time to implement changes and the changes I'm advocating are a good place to start. I'm here as a media management and sales trainer. For many of the participants, they've entered a media career by chance. They have on-the-job training but that may be based on non-competitive circumstances. In old Yugoslavia/Serbia, there were no private stations. Once municipalities were authorized to operate newspapers and radio/TV stations, the firms soon became bloated with employees--patronage appointments in a society with universal employment. A weekly newspaper might have 100 employees and only 70 to 75 would routinely show for work.

Privatization has now taken place. The staff of 100 has shrunk to 25 to 40 in size--which is still too large. But it's a great start. The challenge now is to develop a generation of employees and managers who are more entrepreneurial than their predecessors. Simple management tools help: job descriptions, employment applications, performance reviews and employee performance recognition. I talk about Jim Collin's Good to Great approach to leadership. This time, I've added some thoughts from The Carrot Principle as to how to acknowledge employee performance. Common sense? Common sense is not so common.

Is all of this the same stuff I do back home? Yes and no. It's simplistic to say I'm just here to give lectures. I spend 8 to 9 hours everyday with my group. I don't think many of my colleagues at U.S. universities could make it through the first couple of days. And many would have no interest in trying. Some lack practical application of the materials they teach. Others couldn't dream of traveling to another country, especially one where the people don't speak English. Making the jump across cultural, political and economic differences is the single greatest challenge. There are 500 or so mass communication/journalism programs in the U.S. While the program sizes vary, there must be between 8,000 to 10,000 faculty. I don't think I know of more than 100 people who have made two or more trips outside the U.S. for teaching, training or research projects.

Unlike my U.S. students, there often is no common ground between the participants and myself. My challenge is to present the information as something that can be implemented in their workplace. There's some theory, there's lots of practical advice and there's an encouraging dose of enthusiasm. I meet wonderful people, many of who have high aspirations. I know that it is the circumstances of birth and life that have me on the side of the table opposite them. I am reminded to be grateful for what I have.

1 comment:

Adam Kimble said...

Had any of the participants that you spoke with heard of Good to Great or the Carrot Principle? I would be interested to hear their take on those things and if they read any American management books. Glad you had a successful trip!