Published on 30 January 2004 in , , , ,

Thanks to BT screwing up our phone line, I couldn’t post this on Thursday. However that delay mans a much calmer, more measured response.

Many people will have seen the staff response to the resignation of Greg Dyke as Director General of the BBC. I like many people were completely gutted by his decision, but he made it and I respect that and his reasons for doing so.

He made it, because no matter what they publicly say, the government won’t have shut up without something major happened. Trying to remove the Director General of the BBC is not something that you want to admit to, but it’s amazingly convient that the government shut up as soon as he’d gone.

Even if Greg Dyke had said the same apology as was issued yesterday, I simply don’t believe that would have been enough for Downing Street. They might have gone quiet for a bit but come charter renewal, or when Greg’s contract came up for renewal, the BBC would have been cruelly and painfully punished. At least this way, it stands a chance of staying alive.

No ordinary boss.

Politics aside, the departure for whatever reason of a boss of Greg’s level is not normally marked in such a way by its staff, but Greg Dyke was no ordinary boss.

I started at the BBC on his first working day in the job – 31 January 2000. He gave a speech, broadcast across the organisation. The comments from staff were cynical, but pleasent.

The BBC at the time was a rather dispirited place. Moral was low and departments barely spoke and if they did, there was distrust.

Whilst the press and critics have decried Greg telling us to "Cut The Crap" and "Make it happen" whilst waving cards, they were iniatives that actually worked. The BBC now works more functionally than it did four years ago. People work together a lot better than they did, and think of the bigger picture more.

Cut that crap.

At the same time, the ‘Making It Happen’ iniative made people feel that they had ownership over trying to solve the ills of the BBC, and to make it a better place to work.

Money was found for simple things like painting offices, or buying a new sofa; a proper leadership training programme was established; flexible holiday schemes introduced. Quite often things were really simple, yet made a big difference to people who worked within the organisation. It made them happier, and meant that the work that came out of them was better. Spending a little bit of money on treating your staff well, and the rewards will greatly outnumber the cost.

Greg Dyke was an open and approachable boss. He turned up to many of the ‘Making It Happen’ events, at workshops and other events. During Making It Happen, a box was set up so people could write annoymous comments. He promised to read every single one.

A cynic may say, "well how do you know he did?" and well, I don’t know. But I know several people who emailed him directly on various matters, and in reply, recieved handwritten letters on the subject in the internal post.

Open and honest.

He was an honest boss. He told you what he thought. I will always remember one speech where when asked what the BBC should be doing about negative press in the Daily Mail, he told us to simply stop reading the Daily Mail!

He was a boss of the people. He enthused us, encouraged us, helped us feel proud, rightly and justly proud to work for the BBC. I felt proud to work for the BBC. I still do. In four years the place has changed beyond all recognition. And one man was at the top of it guiding it through.

That’s why Greg Dyke will be sorely missed. That’s why staff were protesting yesterday, were bombarding him with supportive emails. That is why the organisation is in shock.

Wherever Greg Dyke turns up next (and he will turn up somewhere), he will inspire and enthuse his staff to do great things. He has left the BBC in a far better shape than he found it.

It is good.

I would like to end this by saying that a lot of people look at the outside and think the BBC is a great place. And it is. Not perfect, but it is now a hell of a lot better than it used to be.

It can still be an annoying and frustrating place – that cannot be denied – but it is full of great people with an enormous amount of enthusiasm. And when they work together they can, and do, do great things.

As a citizen of the UK, I had the uttermost respect and admiration for the BBC before I started working there, and I am ridiculously proud to work for it now. And I hope I will be able to be proud of it for many years to come.