Being a Boss and Friend
Written by Jensen Mathie
Being a boss and friend with your yearbook staff can be a tough balancing act that can take a couple of tries to get down. Because you have likely worked with some members before you were editor and others may be new to staff, each member will need something a little different from you. You may need to work on getting staff to listen and participate or help your staff trust you more as a friend. It isn’t always easy, but with the right techniques, the balance can become more comfortable to maintain.
Keeping these two elements in balance can help you get closer to your staff and reach the point where you can fulfill both roles without sacrificing either side. As their boss, you guide and lead them, but as their friend, you should be there to support them. Growing closer to your staff, establishing trust, and getting to know the people you work with will help you complete a yearbook everyone can be proud of.
Staying in Touch
With everything currently going on in the world, it is more difficult than ever to keep in touch to ensure work is getting done. It requires intentionality. Using technology helps maintain those relationships as if you were in a classroom together. Having regular meetings – whether face to face (maintaining a six-foot distance), over the internet, by phone or by text – will help build that relationship and trust you need.
One of the things you can do to improve relationships is participate in team-building activities. A few examples of great team-building activities are taking funny personality quizzes (bonus: it helps you better understand what motivates them and how to relate to them) and playing outside games that require everyone to work together (bonus: it teaches them how to depend on each other as a staff). Being able to have fun together and taking a few healthy breaks shows you are trustworthy and helps them see you more as a person than just their boss. This will make them feel more comfortable coming to you for help when they need it. Your staff must work together to complete the yearbook, so team-building activities set the tone for the year and strengthen staff bonds.
Get to Know the Person Behind the Position
Everyone is a human being with real emotions and has a different way of building trust. They will express how they feel in different ways to achieve their best work. Once that trust is set between both parties, it becomes easier to balance being a friend and a leader. It is important to show them they are valued for more than just the contributions they make to the yearbook and become familiar with them outside of their roles to really bond.
Knowing their different personalities can be a big help with building that bond. Learn about what they like to do. Their hobbies will show you what kind of person they are and help you get to know them better. You need to know these things for two reasons. First, it will show you what kind of spreads will interest them and allow their creativity to shine. Second, it will show areas of weakness. Recognizing those means you can show them ideas to improve those areas on their pages while avoiding tasks that will not produce beneficial results. You want to make sure your ideas don’t change too much of their personality so it still feels like their work but also raises the quality of your publication.
Don’t feel like you’re alone when trying to guide your staff. Talking with your adviser and other editors is helpful because if you get stuck in a situation where you can’t see one side, those editors and your adviser can help you understand the other side. Teaching and effective communication with your staff is crucial to your publication’s success and personally rewarding. Watching the light bulb go off in their heads after they have learned something new is the best feeling in the world because it tells you that you did your job well.