Give Everything Away.
That’s it. That’s all y’gotta do.
As a Production Executive, Creative Executive or Director, Producer or any combination thereof; these three practices will set you up and keep you in a position of effective, essential power and influence.
You already know that, no matter how fantastic one’s own original vision of a production or project may have been; it is likely, virtually assured, that after having shared it with your team and having collaborated and tested and massaged it through design and production to launch or show it is far better, more compelling and resonant for having opened it up to collaboration and contribution with and by your team.
Be sure they know that you know that. Walk that talk and it will come back to you in spades.
Give Everything Away.
I’m talking credit, here; acknowledgement. Put your people in the spotlight as they create or deliver exceptional or exemplary work.
Everyone already knows you are The One, the Creative Visionary, the Impresario Producer…that you drive the Idea or Concept and the Team…are In Charge. The world already knows that. My suggestion is to be relaxed and secure in your position and give all the credit to those who deliver for you.
So, when someone comes up to you after seeing your show or experiencing the thing you made and says, “Oh, Kile (if, in fact, your name is Kile); that was amazing! I still can’t get over The Moment when <whatever impressed them> happened: I will remember that for the rest of my life! THANK YOU!” That is your opportunity to publicly and graciously point to and acknowledge the person or team that made that one component happen for you; throwing attention and accolade their way.
“You know who did that? That was David, John and Melissa; they’re right over there, I’d appreciate it if you’d go over and tell them what you just told me. In fact, let me introduce you…”
…or some practical form of immediate acknowledgement…
- share their contact informations
- cite their work when interviewed
- spontaneously recommend them when the subject of their craft comes up amongst peers and colleagues
Push and promote those who have delivered for you; it only makes you look generous and supportive and ego free…and we know you are at least two of those things, anyway…
The rewards and benefits of such a stance are legion. I can attest to the good feeling of handing off compliments, the power of the trust that is built and grows when your team knows you respect and appreciate them and the security that exists and builds in knowing that these professionals will likely jump with alacrity at the chance to work again with someone who treats them fairly and who readily shares the Glory.
And who pays them on time. (We’ve talked about this…)
So, what am I talking about?
Responsibility of The One in Charge extends well beyond the Production, itself.
- Know your team. Know the individuals who make up your team beyond Job Titles. Know them. Know whether they have families, where they are from, other jobs they’ve had. Assuming an individual is only the title held can cut you off from great amounts of information and resource. The more you know of the background, activities, historical contexts and interests of the people who make up your team, the more I guarantee you will find resources you did not know you had.
- Especially in an emergency. Who knows: the wind comes up, the tarps come loose, rain is imminent, your production coordinator is also a Scout Leader or was a Forest Ranger in a past life. Knots you need? Done. You never know. Find out.
- Keep your agreements with your team. (see link, above.) Pay ‘em on time, don’t make them feel they have to ask for their money.
- Respect their private / home lives.
- Respect them. This has to be genuine and authentic. Another guarantee: if you treat your people with full-on respect, they will deliver anything for you.
- Respect the expertise. A good leader should know a little bit about a lot of things and not pretend to know everything about anything. Knowing enough to know your team members are doing good work is important; thinking they need your close supervision in order to do their jobs is a sure way to get them to leave you. Ask for what you want, refrain from telling them how it’s done. If they don’t know more than you, you’ve hired the wrong people.
- Never assume “ownership” of anyone on your team. They serve and support you out of their respect for you and your work or vision…and because they know you respect them, their expertise, their contributions. Should they sense an absence of respect on your part; they will likely be the next thing that is Absent.
- Responsibility? Basically, if the show goes great, it’s due to them; if it goes awry, it’s your fault. Deal with any actual person who err’d in private; but publicly, that buck stops at your desk and must fall no further below it.
Finally, Be Responsible
Words are one thing; actions quite another. A Solid Leader pays attention to the little things that might be overlooked or fall between the cracks in a large bureaucracy.
This does not mean be a micromanager. For that, I will lead the mob with stakes and torches in hand. (There is, I hope, a special place in whatever Afterlife there may be for Micromanagers.) What it means is that, as a production ramps up and the work is getting done; the One in Charge must be sure the team is being supported by the infrastructure. Payments are made on time, insurance is carried and covered, breaks are taken and people are fed…and that craft services has carbs, protein and abundant amounts of chocolate and sugar.
Seriously: it is not unusual for a show to close or a project to wrap with a vendor or freelancer not yet paid. It should be unusual but it isn’t, unfortunately. Sometimes things move fast, invoices get lost, payment is assumed but not actually delivered. Many such things can result in that one payment not happening.
When this happens, the One Who Was in Charge remains responsible for the clearing of accounts. You may be on to another project, as may the individual or vendor the former client owes your team member. But being separated from the project is irrelevant; it remains your responsibility see to it that that artist or technician is paid…especially if you are ever going to want work from that person, again.
These are your relationships to protect.
Developing and maintaining a reputation for being committed to the well-being and professional treatment of those who work under you will ultimately give you a great reputation for respecting your people…and will result in those people trusting you, implicitly, and returning to you in the future.
Anecdotally; this is how it has played out for me…
I do work in theme parks, for non-profits and NGO’s, for corporations. When I have a good budget and a well-paying gig, I pay my teams accordingly … and always on time. The men and women who have worked for me in stadiums, theatres, Urban Malls and ballrooms have been doubt-free about the respect (and often awe) in which i hold and treat them. We get great results, every time.
(Well, there was that one time…)
At other times, when I have accepted a project for a weakly-funded charity or smaller entity; I can reach out to these same people, sharing with them the fact that “…there’s no money in this one…,” and they remain highly likely to jump onboard and join me on the project, because:
- they know that they will be treated with respect
- they will be paid on time, no matter how minuscule the payment
- they will be asked to collaborate on something that will be emotionally engaging and likely quite fulfilling to them, personally and professionally, and
- they will very likely get to see me cry, more than once, as the Experience unfolds…and chances are they will also be moved.
Not a bad reputation to have. Not a bad offer to make. Good practice for work and life.
To the point of the title of this piece; it is working in this way that will ensure the power to attract good people to do good work, it is working in this way that will offer the reputation for edge, for creativity, for creating healthy collaborative and fun environments that yield compelling experiences, it will make your teams attractive to others, lessen the amount of coal in your stocking at Christmas and lower the number of voodoo dolls made in your image.
“IMHO: Creating Compelling Experience” is a free downloadable eBook on the tenets and methodologies we use to…create compelling experience. Find it in the iBooks app on any Apple device or in iTunes at this link.
Nobody sticks their neck out for somebody who won’t do it themselves. That’s a constant.