Confessions of An Editor: I’m Watching You

freelance-writing-adviceReady for a shocker? Sometimes editors are so damn busy they can’t be bothered to fire useless¬† people right away. Instead, they use them for anything they can acutally be trusted to do until such time as it’s more convenient to let them go. We know it’s hard to find good people, so we’ll put a medicore slob into as much grunt work as possible to make our lives easier til we can get around to giving them a pink slip.

At one job, I had to keep dead weight around for MONTHS because my bosses were too slow to hire replacements. I had to look for a new body on the sly, line up my choices and tell them to hang in there for a little while.  When this company did hire replacements, they wanted practically the entire office to interview them.


“Guys, don’t run each and every person that comes through our doors into the meat grinder,” I said, “at least do me the favor of only vetting the one person we’re actually INTERESTED IN HIRING.”

I kept the dead weight around and gave out specific tasks. I kept them away from the sensitive stuff and threw them dirt work to keep them busy. But the whole time, I was waiting for any excuse to swing the axe. In that particular case, I let my laziest employee violate a key piece of company policy and gave them the boot with no argument from above.

Could I have stopped the violation from happening? I certainly saw it coming. I could have stepped in and forced the employee to do the right thing instead. But I didn’t. I wanted the guy to knot the rope, toss it over the rafters and stick his head in the noose. I’d had months of excuses for non-productivity and I was finished. When I told my bosses it was time for this person to leave the company and why, it was over. And this from people who were very non-confrontational.

The moral of the story is, don’t think you are getting away with ANYTHING. If you’re running game, if you aren’t living up to your part of the bargain, if your output leaves much to be desired, take note–the editor is watching you and the vultures are circling. Either kick your content up to expectations, or expect to get canned. It’s as simple as that. It just doesn’t happen as fas as you think it’s going to sometimes…purely for the convenience of the powers that be.

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