Post by Tanya Maslach, contributing Women On Business writer
"We’re spending 16 hours a day together. You get to know people on a deeper level than you would in a typical corporate setting," says Liz Newman, producer for the TV show ‘Scrubs’ and production supervisor on ‘Sex and the City.’ "If it seems like coddling," she says, "these things are done to improve working conditions and to keep people on task."
"What we’re doing is creating an environment that allows actors to focus on acting," says Sean Patrick Crowell a Hollywood veteran whose worked on films such as ‘Terminator 3’ and ‘Six Feet Under’
I read this in an article discussing what we can learn from how Hollywood manages talent (in Talent Management magazine), and I found the whole thing oddly humorous. Mainly because we spend so much time and money reading about, laughing at and creating Saturday night live skits about the goings-on of the Hollywood actors and their temperamental selves (as if corporate America is free of such people), and yet, in a main stream industry magazine on managing talent, we are now reading about how to emulate them.
Why? Because the strategies they employ to build relationships, and thereby, keep actors on task, are ones we learned back around the age of 5.
The equivalent of ‘talent managers’ in corporations are producers and directors in Hollywood. And due to their timelines, budget responsibilities and schedules -– at which even the most myopic Wall Street analyst would cringe — they practice some pretty simple strategies for maintaining a well-oiled TV or film production. Even with some temperamental personalities on board.
What does this have to do with business?
Again -– everything.
The Hollywood ‘talent managers’ have figured out that too much college and too little kindergarten makes Jonny the producer a less than effective ‘talent manager’. And that means unhappy actors. And THAT means, overrun budgets, films not finished on time, etc etc.
So what do they do?
1. They don’t wait until the middle of taping to give feedback.
What’s the point of that? The CEO of Corporate Productivity said, “In the artistic world, there is an impetus to improve daily, hourly. In the corporate world, we can get lazy about improvement.” I’ll say. Lots of gab about improving shareholder value, market share, sales cycle time…blah blah blah. But who really accomplishes all that? The peeps, that’s who. But helping them improve by giving them a bit of feedback six months into the year, exactly six months after they did something right (or wrong), does zippo to improve any of those other metrics. So why do we wait so long to give feedback? Skill? Emotion? Maybe both. What’s stopping you from improving either?
2. They believe that managing talent “is akin to being a host and treating employees like guests in your home.”
I have to say it — Duuh. John Putch, Hollywood actor and director (and apparently someone who listened to his mother and kindergarten teacher really well), said, “By caring for the cast and crew around you, it’s amazing how folks become easier to handle”. Some even say, before giving feedback, build a rapport with actors first by getting to know their personalities and “putting them at ease with a sincere compliment, a joke, or a story”. Wow. There’s something new and different. Sincerity. Story-telling. Learning about them first. I wonder if that would work in a corporate setting.
3. They get some face time – some good quality one-on-one time – with their actors.
This doesn’t mean hours of chatter. It can be a mere 15-20 minutes. “The actor is the most fragile creature you’ll find on a movie set. Actors are fearful, and they want to come off well in front of the camera. Face to face meetings early on help build trust.” Okay, substitute ‘actors’ for employees and ‘camera’ for ‘boss’ and what do you have? Enough said.
When in doubt, remember what you learned in kindergarten. If you can’t, find a kindergartner near you.