I played Division 1 soccer in college. In pre-season, at its most miserable, my team had practice three times a day: at 5:30am, 11:30am and 5:30pm, along with a 2pm weight lifting session. Practices were held rain or shine, whether you felt a cold coming on, and long after you threw up from all the sprints. For that, the expression “teamwork” is not lost on me, specifically because of what I experienced in that time.
Coach Jen had 3 rules:
- Don’t be late to practice.
- Don’t bring your cell phone to practice.
- Don’t wear pink to practice (no joke).
As “punishment” for any of these offenses, you were benched while your teammates ran sprint drills for 45 minutes. 45 minutes. In those 45 minutes, while you sat on the bench and watched your teammates serve your punishment, you truly felt the weight of your decisions on other people. And had you – for a second – considered that your actions affected others – you could have made a better decision for the team. Your team.
I think sometimes here, we unknowingly commit similar offenses that others have to pay for:
- If Brand Management doesn’t ask all the right questions of the client, creative pays by having to re-do creative work and wasting precious hours in a timeline that is likely already pretty tight.
- If creative drops the ball and doesn’t deliver work on time, brand management gets their ass handed to them by the client.
- If project management doesn’t loop in the digital and social teams at the right time, they’ll get stuck playing catch up for longer than we have to execute the campaign.
- If the new business team doesn’t properly scope, it limits the great work we can do because we’re worried the hours won’t allow for our ideas.
The list goes on.
In his book The Art of Client Service, Rob Solomon has a chapter titled “We are smarter together than we are alone”. He says, “the creation of advertising and everything that surrounds it – the plans, presentations, budgets, and schedules – is a collaborative process. Effective collaboration is key to making great advertising. So why are so many agencies siloed? Why do departments within agencies – account management, creative, media – often act more like competitors than colleagues? Why is it that many agencies are characterized by turf battles, warring egos and petty politics?”
I think it’s because we forget that we are on the same side. We forget that our mistakes, dropped balls or lack of attention to detail cause a ripple effect that “punishes” someone else. We forget to work as one team.
I would hope that you are not willing to sit on the bench and watch your teammates serve your punishment with sprint drills.
I encourage you to just be better. How?
- Over-communicate. Communicate with all the parties and departments involved in a project so much that people say you’ve already given them the update. And ask. Go ask the content creation team if they feel they need to be included in that briefing or if they just want to follow the workamajig task.
- Expand your horizons. Digital scares you? Great. Go make friends. Go to lunch with them to pick their brain and understand what they need from you as a peer. Ask if you can sit in one of their meetings to just absorb their lingo or understand their process. Court them.
- Respect one another. Your ability to speak freely to anyone here is a privilege, not a right so don’t take advantage of it. But if you are offended by something, speak up. This is still a professional work environment. Act like it.
- Lastly, work as one team. Anticipate questions and needs from your team-mates. Ask them how you can work better together and then adjust your behavior. Act as if you’re the one who may end up running sprints.