I continue to think about what mistakes I’ve made in trying to hire and manage assistants, and how I can do better going forward. SO MANY MISTAKES. I really had no training in management, you know, and it shows. Regretting how much stress I’ve caused people, among other things.
One obvious mistake is that I kept trying to treat these people as if they knew everything I know, which is ridiculous. They don’t live in my head, they generally haven’t spent 25 years in the writing / publishing industry, and things that are obvious to me are completely obscure to them.
Example — I asked an assistant to write up the cost list for publicity for the cookbook, and she was bewildered, because she didn’t know of anything we’d spent on publicity. I had to explain that the postcards and such that we did for Kickstarter fulfillment were also intended for publicity, ditto the party we hosted at WisCon — partly for the SLF and for Rad Magpie, but partly for Feast. All of which made sense to her as soon as I said it, but it wasn’t obvious in advance.
I’d give people tasks with wildly inadequate explanation, often by fairly terse message or e-mail, because I was harried. And so often, a 5 minute conversation would’ve gone so far to actually make clear what I was talking about, and what needed to be done.
Mary Anne, if you don’t have time to have a 5-minute conversation, then you probably don’t have time to get the task done, by you or anybody else either. Accept that.
I’m trying to build in more communication. In person is ideal; if that isn’t possible, then by Skype or Zoom, so we can see faces too, if that isn’t possible, then by phone. It’s not necessary for everything — sometimes a message or e-mail is the most efficient way to get a task assigned. But only if the groundwork has been laid first.
Going forward, more in-person regular meetings, more start-of-week stand-up meetings, more tracking of what everyone is actually doing (not to micromanage, which I hate, but just to keep track of a complex system), more use of Trello and probably Clockify.