As a government manager with an organizational fetish, I gobbled how-to books like candy. One of my favorites was a skinny book by Kenneth Blanchard entitled The One-Minute Manager. Using a fictional story, Blanchard taught a manager how to deal with employees in terms of goals, praise and discipline. The simplicity of the message amazed me, and I immediately adopted it as my bureaucratic Bible.
A writer might ponder why such a publication would apply to freelancers since they are notoriously loners. While the information relates to managing people, the guidance applies to managing yourself in your struggles to become a career writer, and that includes dealing with other people like editors, peers and editorial assistants. The bottom line to the advice is this: be simple, focused and brief.
ONE-MINUTE GOALS. The most common mistake in setting performance goals is overwriting them. You need goals easily referenced. One I implemented five years ago involved keeping a fixed number of queries to magazines outstanding at all times. I posted the goal on my computer for one year. Today the routine is as natural to me as eating dinner.
- Keep them simple
- Keep them easily understood with clear measurements
- Focus on the 20% of your activities that bring you 80% of your gain
- Limit your goals to three to six.
ONE-MINUTE PRAISE. While Blanchard references praising other employees, these guidelines work in managing your work and the work schedules of those in your environment. When an interviewee cooperates well, tell him, send him a thank-you and send him a copy of the published article once it is published. Thank your editors as well. An annual holiday card doesn’t hurt, either.
- Pay close attention to results.
- Reward results promptly.
- Be consistent.
ONE-MINUTE DISCIPLINE. Editors are busy people as are interviewees and experts needed for your material. Deal with issues promptly when misunderstandings, late appointments and lost paperwork occur. While you aren’t disciplining these people, you are dealing with shortcomings that impact your performance as a writer.
- Don’t let mistakes pile up
- Correct mistakes immediately
- Be consistent
- Be specific
- Do not attack another person
After dealing with dissatisfaction, follow-up with positive praise
Establish that you share disappointment with another individual only because you respect him.
While you might not be an office manager, you have many of the same responsibilities and headaches. Think like a manager in organizing your time, and you create an efficient environment for your freelance career.
C. Hope Clark is founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com, annually recognized by Writer’s Digest in its poll of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers. She delivers four newsletters each week to thousands with her specialty being grants and income opportunities for writers of all sizes. She’s published over 200 articles on paper and online. Her magazine credits include Writer’s Digest, The Writer Magazine, ByLine Magazine, NextStep Teen, College Bound Teen, Landscape Management Magazine, TURF Magazine, and American Careers Magazine. Hope is a motivational soul known as “Freelance Hope” in many circles. Those reluctant to promote their writing cherish her trade paperback The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. Find more hope for your writing career at www.fundsforwriters.com & www.theshywriter.com.