Managing Your Desk By Vince Rinehart Editorial Copy Desk Chief The Washington Post 1. Follow the Golden Rule • Treating others as you would like to be treated saves effort, time and money. 2. Act like a leader. • You set the tone. • Find solutions without whining. • Believe in your leadership, and others will, too. 3. Have clear expectations. • Put your vision for the desk in writing. • Educate bosses and your team about it. • Be consistent and predictable. 4. Find allies. • Cultivate relationships with other managers on your level and above you. You’ll find good teachers. • You’ll need allies outside the newsroom. 5. Learn some history. • How does your paper hire? Fire? Reprimand? Reward? Follow those examples. 6. Make yourself known. • Take part in newsroom life. • Talk often with reporters and other editors. • Attend meetings and know what’s going on around you. 7. Represent. • Be your team’s ambassador, advocate and spokesman. • Solve problems for supervisors while treating colleagues fairly. 8. Take the heat. • Be the filter for criticism from outside the desk. • When there are mistakes, keep defensiveness in check. 9. Listen. • Find out about your colleagues’ interests and experiences. • Keep confidences. Don’t gossip. 10. Communicate. • Have regular staff meetings for feedback and resolving problems. • Praise publicly, criticize privately. 11. Be honest. • Speak truth without rancor. • Don’t ignore problems or sugarcoat bad news. 12. Be a reporter. • Find out what might be hindering a troubled colleague. Is it at work? At home? Ask how to help. 13. Stay cool. • If yelling begins, the discussion ends. • Calm silence is the best response to extreme emotions. 14. Provide an “out.” • When there’s trouble, focus on actions, not people. • Ask them for solutions, make clear you believe they can address the problem. • Emphasize their importance to the team. • Set a date to follow up later. 15. Be patient. • In all conflicts, honesty over time, with reinforcement, breaks down denial. 16. You’re the boss, not the pope. • Admit fallibility and concede mistakes The desk’s job is to challenge things; encourage them to challenge you, too. 17. Evaluate. • Grow and keep editors by being thoughtful and using specific examples. Don’t surprise people with problems they haven’t had a chance to remedy. 18. Reward good work. • Create a public way to show great catches, headlines and overall editing. 19. Remember the personal things. • Birthdays, sympathy cards, new babies, weddings, etc. • And every now and then, treat the desk to pizza. 20. Promote teamwork. • In proofing and headline help, and coping with crises, everything works better when we take care of one another.