Photo by: James Whitehill

October 21, 2019 / Systems of Success

Systems of Success – First Deadline Considerations

Written by Jim Jordan

Just ended a whirlwind tour of working with schools at Walsworth’s Elite Weekends and then visiting several others across the country and I saw once again how crucial it is that you put a system in place that will allow your individual yearbook staffers to be as successful as they can be.

Here are a few questions you need to ask as that first deadline is fast approaching.

Does everyone on staff know what their tasks are and exactly when they are due?

Each yearbook staff member must understand exactly what is expected of them and when the work is due. This is a great reason to have one or more managing editors who will monitor all parts of the production process and the mini deadlines along the way.

Be sure to post who is doing what for each deadline around the room on bulletin boards, whiteboards, wherever. I found that when I could see at a quick glance what everyone was supposed to be working on, it was so much easier to keep everyone on task and offer help when they needed it.

Does everyone on staff (including the editors) know what high quality work looks like?

Be sure to provide staffers with models of quality work. Just getting it done is never enough. What does a solid 300-word story look like? How does it read? What are the types of photos that will and will not go into the book.

Don’t just TELL them, SHOW them with great models.

Have you trained your staff to do the work you have assigned them?

It’s so easy to assign work, but is every staff member prepared to do it well? Have you provided them a clear timeline and set of mini deadlines from start to completion?

The greatest tension in my yearbook room often came from last minute work demanded by the editors that the staffer did not understand how to do. Every bit of work necessary to produce a quality yearbook is part of a process that can be broken down into parts and steps that can be trained.

Are you coaching them at every step in the process?

Is coaching an ongoing part of your production process? One successful program in Florida utilizes four managing editors who each are in charge of 6-8 staff members. During every class period they are checking with their team and are helping them understand what they have been assigned, checking progress along the way, and helping them achieve their highest level of quality work.

Have you given the staff enough time to produce quality work?

Avoid dumping last minute work on staff members who are already working hard. Just because you have not planned well should not make it OK to expect them to crank something on short notice.

Great editors plan to insure everyone knows what they are doing, have been trained to do it and are coached to success from start to finish.

Now go conquer that first deadline. You’ve got this.

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Jim Jordan
Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan is a Special Consultant for Walsworth Yearbooks and the host of the Yearbook Chat with Jim podcast. He is former yearbook adviser at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California. Jim was the 1996 JEA Yearbook Adviser of the Year, and shares his expertise with students and advisers at workshops and conventions across the country. Jim is the lead mentor for Walsworth's Adviser Mentor Program.