Most of us spend more time at work than we do in any other part of our daily lives. My advice to young people starting their careers is to be very aware of how it feels in their workplace. Is it friendly? Is it fun? Are you comfortable in your work and working environment? If he needed you to for some reason, could you bring your puppy dog to work on a given day?
I have found that what has worked best for Cape Cod Life Publications is to find, hire, and train very independent-minded employees. In large part, we have had wonderful loyalty, dedication, and longevity among the staff over the last 34 years.
Without levels of managers, everybody here is pretty much his or her own boss. When someone says, “Is it okay if I take a vacation at such and such a time?”, my answer has always been, “You tell me. You know what you need to get done and when. If those dates work for you, great. Have a good trip.”
I don’t mean to imply I am just purely Mr. Nice Guy and you can do whatever you like. As a team, we pretty much agree on how to handle all projects, changes, and so forth, but when I ask someone to do something, I expect it to be done. If it isn’t, I generally ask the person why it would be necessary for me to make the same request twice. I also suggest that we really need not have the conversation a third time. To be of help, I suggest, “You tell me what you feel would be a reasonable time frame within which to complete such and such assignment.”
With this overall independent approach, I have found it very rewarding to witness the growth and development of professionalism among the staff. However, on some occasions, this has contributed to some staff being offered opportunities better for them, apart from Cape Cod LIFE Publications. Like managing editor Jeff Harder, for example.
After working for Yankee Publishing and Gatehouse Media, Jeff joined us as associate editor in 2008. In 2009, Jeff married his charming wife, Siobhan, who is a nurse at Cape Cod Hospital. They bought a home in Centerville in 2012. He adores his English bulldog, Biff, and in fact loves all animals; He volunteers at the Centerville MSPCA, along with Liz Flynn, comptroller in our business department.
Here I quote Susan Dewey, editor and associate publisher: “In all the five years that I have worked with Jeff, I have never once seen him lose his temper, say a mean thing to anyone, or miss a deadline. He is a talented, precise editor, yet sometimes his writing is so poetic it makes me cry. He has been unfailingly kind and supportive to me, but he never hesitated to tell me the truth as he saw it, even if it meant telling his boss that a story needed work, or an issue was too ‘cheesy’—one of the ultimate insults of his generation! Jeff is leaving to get a master’s degree in Professional Writing at UMASS Dartmouth. I am so proud of and happy for him, but I will miss him a lot. He was my anchor to the wind in the office.”
Also, take Matt Nilsson, for example. Matt started as an intern with us last year. We hired him as an editorial assistant/writer, and he quickly worked his way up to special sections editor. He started writing some wonderful feature stories as well as handling our Readers’ Resources section—no small feat doing interviews, writing stories, and coordinating production with several departments and advertisers, especially for a 24-year-old. Matt is leaving us to see the world. He will be traveling with his girlfriend to something like 10 cities in Europe in the next few months, starting with Paris.
Jeff Harder introduced us to his replacement, Matt Gill, who joined us in August. Matt and Jeff worked together at Gatehouse Media, and as this issue went to press, his first assignment has been to help us find a replacement for Matt Nilsson. I am very happy for Jeff and for both Matts. My experience has been that if the employees come first, including whatever is best for them, all else seems to work out just fine.
So we had a party in Jeff and Matt Nilsson’s honor to thank them for all they’ve done and wish them the best of luck in all they do. Fortunately, just across the street from the Cape Cod LIFE Publications’ office in Masphee Commons, one finds The Lanes, a new indoor/outdoor café outfitted with bowling lanes. It is an extension of the well-known and well-respected Bobby Byrne’s Pub.
Of course, in making up the teams, Susan Dewey stacked the deck. You can’t tell me she didn’t know what a good bowler her husband Steve is. Susan also put photographer, Dan Cutrona, on her team—and he bowls almost as well as he photographs. Tell me that was a coincidence! We had such fun, everybody wants to go again. Next time, I am making up the teams.
Brian Shortsleeve, President and Publisher
- Posted in Brian Shortsleeve's Blog