Managing Your Desk

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
• 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
• You’ll need allies outside the
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
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
13. Stay cool.
• If yelling begins, the discussion
• 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
• Emphasize their importance to the
• 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.

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