I’ve worked with some brilliant people. And I’ve worked with some difficult people.
Occasionally colleagues have fallen into both these categories, but not for long. Experience has taught me to walk away from even the most phenomenally gifted person if they’re hard to work with.
It doesn’t happen often – perhaps less than half a dozen times in the two decades of ProseWorks’ life. For instance, having to find another way to deal with a running assignment because the client really loved the work of one individual. The problem was that this individual loved themselves even more.
I’m all for writers (and other creatives) being confident about their ability and valuing their worth. When that means they can’t value anyone else involved in the project and start falling out with other for no real reason, it’s time to call a halt.
Otherwise it won’t be long before everyone and everything – colleagues, clients, the ProseWorks agency itself – becomes the conduit for their self-promotion, and we’ll all be messed about and treated badly as they pursue what suits them best.
What form does that take? I’ve seen this kind of person ask for more money halfway through assignment; demand that the client gives them a writer’s credit; even argue with the client about what they’re being asked to do.
This is a world in which agencies and clients themselves are usually pretty flexible and responsive. But they can’t allow hard-to-work-with people get in the way of the job.
And, to be blunt, I don’t want to spend my working hours managing individuals who are high maintenance, difficult or needy, regardless of whatever marvellous talent or skill they bring to the party.
I don’t fall out with people. I don’t have blazing rows with them. I just don’t pick up the phone or message them to offer them work in the future. This isn’t a sensational confession, and it’s no deep, dark revelation of how we operate behind the scenes. It’s basic human nature.
There’s always, always someone else who can fill their role, someone more generous, someone kinder, someone more pleasant to work with.
And here’s the thing; while the new arrival may not be quite as good as the departed one, and that may mean that I have to give up more of my time to help develop their skills, that’s just fine.
As long they’re easy to work with.