Whether a staff person or a freelancer, what skills, competencies and personality traits do you consider being most important? When it’s performance review time, how do you assess performance? What factors determine which freelancer or supplier you hire? Whether it’s a Producer, P.A., P.C., or A.P., what competencies are most essential – leadership, creativity, technical skills? Certainly, there’s a lot at stake if it’s a staff person , but even making a decision about a freelancer/supplier who can become the face (and voice) of your department, can be mission critical. Under the heading of “you’re only as good as your last project,” I’m reminded it’s my department’s reputation that is on the line during every interaction with a client, whether face-to-face, on the phone, via e-mail or text. I’m guessing that like me, one of your responsibilities is to make sure the assigned staff person or freelance producer working on a project is the “right one” to put in front the client.
Related to performance assessment, I’m sure every company has a process. In order to clarify performance expectations my company has defined several “Leadership Competencies that represent the key skills and behaviors needed to drive business success.” Along with the “results achieved” in your specific job, these competencies are used to assess performance and identify development opportunities. The competencies range from “Communicates Effectively and Candidly” to “Leads Change and Innovation” and “Plans and Acts strategically.” Others touch on talent development, teamwork, and the ability to influence others. In addition, my officer has shared the following competencies she feels are important to be a leader in the areas of Communications and Corporate Relations. They include:
- Intellectual horsepower and curiosity – intelligent and agile, deals with concepts and complexity comfortably, able to make sound, reasoned judgments
- Ability to deal with paradox – can manage through seemingly irreconcilable differences
- Composure – is calm and calming under pressure
- Understands others – can see and relate to different perspectives, sensitive to differing feelings, emotions and cultures
- Relationship management – understands the importance of building and nurturing both internal and external relationships
- Creativity – develops new and unique ideas, is original and innovative, adds value
- Courage – able to take and express a contrarian view in a constructive way
- Influence – gains trust of others and builds relationships in order to influence effectively
Clearly, these are all good qualities/traits and they play an important role when I’m assessing performance or deciding who I want on my team. Having said that, my experience has led me to put more emphasis on what might be considered the “softer” skills. I look for excellent personality traits and interpersonal behaviors, rather than actual production expertise, technical skills or years of experience. Certainly, experience is very valuable and I usually assume that anyone who’s survived in this business for more than five or ten years, most likely has perfected the majority of the competencies and traits listed above. So, as I’ve alluded to, I lean towards initially assessing a person’s heart rather than their head. Quite simply, first and foremost, I want to work with a nice person. Someone who;
…has a positive attitude.
…has a genuine passion for the crazy business we’re in.
…can look me in the eye and carry on a conversation.
…can tell a joke, and laugh at one.
…I wouldn’t mind spending a tough day/night in the trenches with.
…I can rely on.
…I can trust.
…is not afraid of hard work, but also knows that hard work needs to produce results.
…understands that actions most often speak louder than words, but also knows when and how to “speak up.”
…understands that you’re not entitled to anything – you need to “earn it” – especially respect.
You can teach someone what a good production schedule looks like or how to frame a good shot, direct an edit session or audition talent, but you probably can’t teach them the traits I mention above. They either have it (the heart, passion and personality for our business) or they don’t. In my opinion, if they have good interpersonal skills and make decisions based on ethics and integrity, they’re more than half way home to becoming a great Producer/Director.
Again, just my opinion – would appreciate yours.
Article contributed by Tom Bowman, CMMA Board of Directors
Mr. Bowman: This is a superb piece! It actually applies to a wide range of communications-related allied fields of work. I shall be sharing with many colleagues and associates here at work who will appreciate your well written perspective on creative collaboration. Thanks!
Tom Densmore said:
Tom, I couldn’t agree more — those are the people you fight to keep! Thanks for sharing such clear and compelling thoughts.