In 1999, a silver haired bespectacled gentleman – Rajpal at an advertising agency I worked taught me an important lesson.
Responsible for the production department his role was crucial to the success of any brand campaign we ran.
Those days, hard copy artworks were the norm as designs moved from concept to completion. Rajpal, a hard taskmaster and the ‘owner’ of the agency studio never allowed any artwork to go past him to production unless the copy chief, the art head and the client servicing executive had all signed on the copies. If anyone evaded his attempts at penning their signatures they often got it back hard. He would ignore their pleas on billing or look the other way for any new tasks which came by.
No amounts of name dropping or calls for urgency were entertained. He was labelled ‘hard hearted’ and ‘cruel’ by many in the organization but the leaders knew the value he added. He was the quality gatekeeper and the conscience of the agency! Rajpal would give his customary grin if an account executive told him how upset the client was or that we were close to losing a prestigious account. Nothing unfazed him. If you hadn’t got the requisite approvals and sign-offs the client could wait and the design wouldn’t leave the office!
By ensuring people put their skin in the game (by signing their name on what they crafted) or believed were their best work he put ownership back in context. Apart from the individual’s and the agency’s reputation on the line there was a lot more at stake – the client’s funds, the time and effort of many team players and most importantly, the respect for the process.
Think of the work you do every day in your department and what leaves your inbox as it heads towards your stakeholder. Did you put your best foot forward? Are you truly proud of what you delivered?
Consider a campaign your team is managing currently. Did your team sign off on their work? Do they have a stake in the outcome? Have you sought better quality on outcomes if they didn’t meet the mark? Are you agreeable if the outcomes were met if the process wasn’t followed? Does the buck stop with you or with the team?
What passes by you becomes the standard that others think you have set for yourself and for others. To have skin in the game you need to take ownership, champion quality and be committed.