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  • Writer's pictureRuss Newton

Life lesson number 2.

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

The second big secret I unlocked at 25 was how to supervise people. I had achieved journeyman status as a press operator two months earlier. I was working at the Chicago Tribune during a strike when I was offered a supervisors job. (see life lesson number 1 for how that happened) The morning of my first shift, as I was preparing for my first day as a supervisor, I had a panic attack! I didn't know anything about how to be a supervisor! I wasn't trained, I was totally unprepared for this role! I took a deep breath and started to think about the problem. I had no experience, but I realized I had been an employee for nine years (seven years in newspapers, two as a bus boy) and had supervisors over me. I thought about all the things I liked (being told why a task was needed, not just being directed to do something) and that exhausted the list of good things. Then I thought about all the bad things supervisors had done to me. Yelling, screaming out of control rants about something I had done. Not explaining the why, only giving orders that made no sense. Gossiping about others (Hint, that meant they were gossiping about me when I wasn't there) bad mouthing employees and never talking about how the business we worked it was doing and so on. So I had a big epiphany! Do the one thing I liked when I was being supervised and do the opposite of every action I had expereienced as an employee and that should work. It took some practice, but that simple approach worked wonders for me as I advanced through the ranks. And I mean I really took off. I was a crew supervisor for two months, then a training supervisor for six months then shift supervisor over ten presses and 80 employees on the third shift production of the daily Chicago Tribune. After 16 months in that job, I was named pressroom manager of the Daily Press in Newport News, VA. More on that later.


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Apr 14, 2020

Good points regarding leadership Russ. While a supervisor, I always kept in mind that leading people that wanted to do things for you was the way to succeed. The ability to lead a group is a gift they give to you, you cannot acquire it through demand. It also helps when you establish situations where their success and well being is directly tied to your success and well being.

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