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The situation in which I asked someone at my organization to change her habits -- for the greater good of the organization -- involved the executive editor. She is in charge of assigning articles to different writers. Typically, the way the process works, writers pitch articles to her and she responds with a yes or a no. Lately, however, she has become selectively responsive in her replies to these pitches, and to emails in general. When a writer pitches her an article, she does not decline it -- she simply does not respond to it. If a writer emails her about other things (such as remuneration, for instance), she will respond readily. Her dearth of responses to article pitches is not only rude and an abuse of her authority within the organization, but also detracts from the quality of articles produced on the site because writers do not know what sort of things resonate with the editor.
My action plan was to politely send her an email stating what I perceived as the effects of her lack of responsiveness. In doing so I utilized classic management couching techniques, in which I presaged every point of change and reason why she should change with something valuable about her work...
I began the email by explicating how grateful I was at the opportunity to write for this organization, and told her that by not responding to pitches it complicates and detracts from the ability of the writer to make effective pitches.
I was somewhat nervous when writing this email, simply because of the power structure in the organization. Quite simply, the editor has all the power, and the writer has very little. Perhaps the aspect of this situation that made it the most tenuous was the fact that the editor could discontinue the services of the writer. The editor responded immediately and stated that she is busy a lot of the time, and that she mostly wants to assign articles and reduce the number of articles that individuals pitch. Still, she did not address the fact that by failing to comment on articles pitched, she provides no insight into how to change pitches in the future to provide something more suitable for the organization's readership. Although she did not appear to take offense to this subject, her lack of insight is somewhat typical and indicative of the fact that she has not necessarily decided to change her habits. Also, the fact that she responded immediately to this email merely highlights the glaring incongruence of her lack of response to emails pertaining to article pitches.
It is difficult to conceive of what I could have done differently to achieve a more desirable result. The only thing that consistently comes…
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