I had a contract (freelance) job as Production Manager at (COMPANY) Entertainment Studios and worked three days. No, that was not the contract term.
I got a call this morning from my rep at the creative agency I freelance through just before I was walking out the door to go to work. He told me not to go to work, that the company was ending my contract. Damn it, that really threw me a curve.
For a change, I was attempting to work for a company that was essentially a start-up, entertainment studio (publishing, film, music, online entertainment, game apps, collectable merchandise). It was exciting and the properties that the company creates are adventurous, fun and relevant for the audience they want to engage. In fact I felt it was a very refreshing change to the mostly super structured, corporate entertainment companies I have worked at very successfully for over 25 years. Yup, twenty five years of success with a few ups-and-downs and trials-and-errors along the way, but mostly success. My reputation for producing outstanding, high profile promotions, advertising campaigns, branded entertainment, online experiences and live events for major entertainment companies are my highly bankable assets in the world of job acquisition.
This “failure” to succeed at the company after just three days totally punched me in my emotional gut and this being (May) Mental Health Awareness Month to boot, gave me a chance to deal with issues on my own. Not that it was my choice to go it alone… I had cancelled my regular bi-weekly appointment with my therapist earlier in the week because I thought this job was going to last a lot longer than three days for heaven sakes! So I called to see if I could get my appointment back. Nope, it was already taken and there were no other appointment openings available for me. Crap! (insert super sad face here)
So I did what any emotionally distraught person would do… beat myself up (mentally not literally) about all of the possible mistakes I may have made in three days, all the things I could and should have done and all the things I should not have done in three days. What was heartbreaking is that I really liked everyone I met and worked with (briefly) and they were very welcoming to me. One essential aspect of any workplace is the team you work with because you aren’t doing all the work yourself and a good team is not only awesome but a joy. As the Producer I lead, so I was dreadfully sad that someone or they must have felt I didn’t cut it, was not effective or fitting in with their culture and not performing to their expectations. Rejected and wow it hurt.
Upon reflection, I found reasons to applaud myself for the attempts I made to absorb as much information as I could with minimal assistance from management. I was thrown into a metaphorical fire and I was asbestos, though not the cancer causing type. The documentation on various projects status was nearly non-existent and the PM tool, Shotgun, was not configured in a way that made it easy to view the current status of the day’s and week’s tasks and the overall workflow and workload for each team member. But I tried to figure out the system and was starting to form a game plan to conquer it. One should beware of any PM (Project Management) tool named after a weapon or device for killing like Shotgun. That name does not generate any confident feelings in the efficiency of the product or organizational capabilities of the system. The name Shotgun instills fear in the Producer that you could get seriously wounded or die and that’s what happened to my job… KILLED.
Seriously, for the ramp-up period to have been fair, given these obstacles, I estimate it would have taken three weeks to progressively evaluate, understand priorities, understand the moods and personalities of management and the team, re-organize and whip the damn process into shape so the erratic workflow could be successfully managed.
Where to go from here… I am thinking along the lines of going into business for myself. Just generating income my way and not be a slave to the whims of an unkind master. Being a free person to choose the life I live and the people I live it with is the way to go and the road along this way might go by a storm, but does not lead me into a one.
All the best,