This question comes in from Scarlett via Medium.
Tips on Being a Team Player While Not Compromising Too Much
Hey Jonathan, what’s your tip of being a team player while not compromising too much? As a junior reporter and videographer, I always take advice from my colleagues out of respect, even though sometimes I might not agree with their ideas. The thing I found most challenging when producing video news is to stay calm and make the right decision of what to shoot. I do that by telling myself that not all the b-roll has to be perfect, sometimes a little bit shaky is acceptable, and just keep going with the flow.
Very interesting question, Scarlett, and one that I wrestle with almost every day. As creative workers, we have our own points of view… but so do our coworkers. Before making a decision to compromise, I find it helpful to ask myself two questions:
- Who is paying me for this project? If the person asking me to make changes is also my supervisor or client, I am likely to make the change because, after all, it is their project, not mine. I have just been hired to facilitate their project. This includes 100% of the work I’ve done for television. My clients are #1 — the production company that has hired me as a freelancer, and #2 — the network that is paying for the production. For personal projects, I am not likely to make a change unless I agree with it creatively. That said, I don’t open personal projects up for creative input from other people unless I trust them creatively. “Trusting them” doesn’t necessarily mean “agreeing with them” though — I trust critical thinkers, people who think deeply and can provide reasons for their creative choices.
- Is this creative decision worth fighting for? I’ve learned that, when working on a team, I am far more likely to get my way on something if I’ve given other people their way in the past. I will often concede on lots of small things, and I’ll have enough goodwill built up by the time I want to fight for something that the person asking me to make the change will concede to me. If, on the other hand, they refuse to concede even after I’ve implemented their changes time after time, it’s a sign that I’m not working in a collaborative environment and should consider moving on.
Want more information like this? Enter your e-mail, get my weekly thoughts and ramblings on documentary film and television, and be the FIRST to hear about my next documentary project!