You have to give people a chance. You have to trust them. But above those two, you have to let them fail. And then from their failure, guide them. Don’t chide them, allow them to recover, to learn and then give knowledge. Encourage, guide, trust, follow - at a distance, allow them to take the lead from time to time. Talk to them, and more than just small talk, get deep. Find out how they’re doing, what they want.
Most people won’t offer that up, they won’t want to rock the boat. You don’t want to tell your boss you’re unhappy and frustrated in case he tells you there’s a line of people outside the door who’ll happily take your place, and maybe if that’s the type of boss you have you might want to reconsider you place of work. But that’s my point, environments should be created where that conversation is allowed to happen. where people can feel secure and can grow. If you allow that kind of freedom, trust, encouragement, communication you’ll find people who want to grow.
Instead, in my experience, what you get are people who shut down, close off and only do a fraction of what they’re capable of. They become enclosed and guarded and spend most of their energy and focus either wanting to be somewhere else, or actually looking to be somewhere else to be. It doesn’t create a healthy place to be. I’ve had bosses, managers, whose technique is to boss and bully, push and shove, to break you down so they can build you up. Those people are usually just assholes and shouldn’t be in a position of managing people.
In all of those situations I’ve watched one of three things happen, if not all three, their employees don’t do a good job because they are being mentally bullied and become unfocused and uninspired and don't want to pitch in, they just leave, or the manager is demoted, moved or fired. It never works out in the end. Another type is the uninspired manager, the one who has little to offer, no guidance, or their guidance is inane and completely pointless, filled with menial tasks and busy work. These people are just idiots, who drain the energy and enthusiasm of their team, and again to the point of losing said team. I
’ve had both of these kinds of bosses, I don’t last long working under them, or they don’t last long. I see them moved around. They talk the talk, but they soon get found out. When Ive been in that position myself, usually when I’m making my own films, I try to keep the set relaxed, collaborative and focused. I want it to be an enjoyable experience, where people feel part of something fun and special. I am of the opinion the making films should be fun, it’s a privilege, most people on a set, especially an indie film set are people in the process of chasing their dream, I’m never going to be the one to tread on that. But I think that kind of enthusiasm, collaboration and respect should exist everywhere.
It’s rare. I haven’t seen in it in a long time. I saw in my last job with my co-supervisor, Bill Hope, great guy, but we worked under a couple of managers who fell into the Bully category. So, I left. I had a teacher called Simon Rangeford back in Drogheda, that only good teacher I ever had in 20 years of education. He inspired, encouraged and guided. My Dad was a good boss, I worked with him as a painter, but as a father, he couldn’t be beat growing up. A real decent bloke. Taught be to follow my dreams, told me to stay focused, ignore those who would put me down, the ones I’m talking about here, told me not to settle, which why I never do. And he showed me how to do it all with humor, a smile, and with kindness. My Mam too, a smart lady, who never took shit from anyone, including me! Someone who was fair, kind and supportive.
They both had my back, and I always felt that. And I think that’s the key, you have to have people’s back. And they have to know that. If you’re behind someone, and they know you’re there for them to fall back on, they will appreciate that, they will trust that, they will be encouraged by that and they will be less inclined to fall. Because with all that behind them, they will want to show you that they can stand on their own.