Hybrid Theory

In today’s economic environment, just being employed is often seen as something we should be extremely grateful for. Now, while I agree with this sentiment, I don’t believe it to be entirely true.

I think you are as employable as you allow yourself to be and the one thing that makes you more attractive to suitors is having a multiple skill set. It gives your employers options, which in turn gives you options.

We run a hybrid business, so this idea of multi-skilled people is especially true for our model. Specialists are still sought after individuals and while I don’t see this changing anytime soon, more and more I find having a varied skill set not only makes you more employable, it adds a new dimension to job satisfaction.

Learning new skills gives you a sense of empowerment.

As humans we naturally multitask –– we raise kids, nurture relationships, maintain our health, and spend at least a third of day earning a living. I think having this ability to successfully spread our resources should not be forgotten in the workplace. It’s the same ability that allows us to find joy in various aspects of our lives, and also gives you a real sense of accomplishment when you are able to successfully juggle the many challenges we face on a daily basis.

I worked for an insurance company for six years before pursuing my passion for film, handing in my resignation letter to take the first step into the film industry. And even though I’ve never looked back, I still value the experience I gained in the corporate world. A lot of this experience I still lean on today. I practiced many disciplines in the film industry and in different ways found joy in all of them. Even cable bashing requires a certain knowhow. While moving through the various departments, I have found that my past experience gave me confidence, no matter how irrelevant the task at hand was. More than learning new skills, I found that learning to learn was the key.

There is a risk in the old adage ‘a jack of all trades but master of none’ ringing true when putting your fingers into too many pies. And this risk is real: trying to do too many things at once can open you up to falling short of excellence. And it’s for this very reason you still keep specialists around. You want your Business Development Manager to concentrate on sales and building relationships but not on briefing your creatives, but not all roles require that type of single-mindedness. You want your video editor to be able to massage a keyboard as he splices between frames, but having the ability to shoot his own content gifts him the accountability to truly own a project. Take a sports team –– rugby perhaps–– if you only rely on the flanks to clean rucks and turn over possession, you leave yourself exposed across the field as you can’t possibly be everywhere. The game has shifted somewhat in that your centre –– even wings –– are hitting rucks and making steals, so this approach allows your team to attack from anywhere on the park.

Crossover skills and experience in a hybrid business gives one a certain empathy and insight into the challenges your colleagues might be facing when you brief a project in.

A lot of what I said can be debated at length, and I don’t think this is by any means a magic bullet theory. We are not the first company to adopt a hybrid business model, but there really aren’t too many around to model ourselves on. As we grow, we are constantly reevaluating our approach to talent acquisition and I have found putting specialists in certain key positions and supporting them with multi-skilled team players an effective approach thus far.

Today, I might be interviewing potential candidates, or meeting with our Financial Director and CEO to discuss the financial health and strategy direction of the business. Tomorrow, I could be producing a TVC or pulling focus for one of our in-house directors.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Craig February is the General Manager at The Fort.