Helping Me Help You

A Producer’s Guide To Better Teamwork

Hello there, it’s me your “friendly” Producer. I truly want to make your job easier. Every single day. I know it may not always feel that way, but I promise I’m trying. Being a good teammate takes a lot of work and requires an unspoken agreement to be open with each other.

So while I have your brief attention I want to talk about a few things you can do to help your producer help you. Help us help you.

  1. Make It Public

When you’re working with people all over the world and in different roles it’s really easy to reach out to someone directly as an individual to get their opinion or thoughts. And that’s great! Platforms like Slack have made communication infinitely easier. That being said, when those conversations revolve around project work it creates a huge blind spot for both myself and other team members. Task management tools help on a global level but day to day decisions are best when made out in the open. Whatever medium that takes place in matters less than just doing it for all to see. Even if I don’t have a direct opinion on something I am at least aware a conversation is happening and can track its impact when needed.

2. Push Back

With agency work there is always a balancing act between clients and internal teams. Producers are in the middle making sure one side isn’t falling off and launching the other side into outer space. As fun as that would be! Sometimes though we slide a little too far to one side and that’s when we need you to raise the alarm. Tell us we’re asking too much, tell us we’re driving you crazy with unnecessary requests, tell us you need more. Don’t be afraid to push back to get us centered again.

3. Don’t Let It Fester

This one is fairly simple: don’t wait until the end of the project to tell me how I could have made your life easier. Let me know in the moment, we’ll be together for a while so let’s not stew on how annoying my bad jokes are.

4. Forgive Me

Every now and then we’ll run into a situation where internally we want to go one direction but a client wants to go another. And sometimes, even though I agree with you, I’m going to have to side with our client. Please forgive me. There are many reasons why I’ll say we need to give in, from business needs to relationship saving to budget and timelines, but I’m always doing it with the best intentions. Know that when it really matters I’ll always fight for you even if we lose.

5. Rely On The Scaffolding

Going through security at an airport is one of the best examples of overdone process. Take off your coat and your watch and your rings and your belt and your hat and your shoes and take out your laptop and any liquids or gels and then get in this body scan machine. But oops you set off the metal detector so now you’re in for a pat down! It’s exhausting and while some portions of it are necessary it bogs down the masses especially when there are people who simply don’t understand the process at all.

Sometimes process within a project feels akin to that security experience. Yet, just like keeping airports safe, processes for a project are there for a reason. It’s not frivolous busy work, it is the scaffolding we put in place in order to build the project successfully. Not only does it ensure visibility for all team members, it allows us to see roadblocks ahead, to know where we are and plan for what’s next. Along with the needed foresight we get, it also keeps everyone accountable. With process we are doing what we said we were going to do and there is documentation to prove that.

Of course, referring back to point 2, if we’re encroaching on airport security territory let us know. We are by nature always searching for efficiencies and love challenges for the sake of improvement.

6. Enter Your Hours

Please. I hate being a nag.

To be more serious though Producers rely on hours tracked for a number of reasons that both indirectly and directly impact our teams. It’s not to police anyone, it’s to gather accurate data that is used to track timelines, budgets and margins for example. We also use that time to look at past projects to determine whether they were resourced and scoped properly. In doing so we make sure that our teams have a healthy amount of work and are not being drowned by too much work or bored by too little. By helping us, we get to help you and we’ll all make Mr.Rogers super proud!

We’d love to hear how us Producers can be better teammates to you, give us the deets!