datesFill-in the blanks cast contracts, really? Fill-in the blanks? It’s an elementary school activity. What could be easier?

The Assistant Coordinator (APC) asked to take on the task of preparing and coordinating the cast contracts. The production office was busy. The Coordinator (PC) was busy. It was time to learn how to do more and to grow in the job. Her initiative was supported and a training session was arranged.

Growth, however, can be a painful experience.

A few days after the contracts were completed and signed, the weakness in the documents was revealled. It was a typo on a number of different contracts. So what’s the big deal about a typo? It’s not usually a big deal, but that only depends on where the typo is. This one was in the list of numbers that confirmed the date(s) of work for each performer. This typo was a multi-thousand dollar one.

Sure the mistake passed several levels of checks and approvals, but it started with the APC and trust was extended that she was ready to take on the responsibility and the contracts would be carefully checked. Approval checks typically involve both spot-checking and a level of trust; they are not intended to duplicate the work done. Enough of blame. What to do next?

First, of course, production paid the performers as contracted, in effect paying for the current and undisputable mistake.

Next, how do you deal with the issue moving forward? Should the PC take back the responsibility because the potental for error is high risk and high cost? Do you raise the extent of double-checking work done to a level of duplicating the work (even for a trial period)? Do you assess if the APC has learned from the experience to be more careful and not repeat the mistake in the future? Does the APC have sufficient self-confidence left to try again? Does production have the budget to risk affording the APC a second chance?

It’s a painful decision all around. Extending trust now is tainted with reservation.

The immediate reaction of the PM and PC was to return the responsibility of cast contracts back to the PC. Initially. It was a conservative position. It was a logical choice.

The APC, however, with shakey confidence, still wanted to prove she could do it – to production, to herself. The relevant points covered in training made so much more sense to her now. As painful as it felt, she needed that second chance.

The PC was first to agree. After more convincing, the PM extended trust again, albeit nervously.

For the next set of cast contracts, the APC was diligently focussed. The PC resisted further stepping up the level of double-check so that the responsbility was truly with the APC along with the task. The PM was just nervously patient.

This next set of contracts were flawless. In the end, the APC grew in ability, responsibility, professionalism and confidence. The apparent ease of fill-in the blanks never fooled her again, and expensive typos were a thing of the past. She was well on her way to becoming a great PC herself… thanks to the painful growth made possible by a second chance.

Not knowing how the second round would go, would you have given her the second chance? Really?

Cheers & a good shoot to you,