If you've spent any amount of time managing people, you've probably come to the conclusion that creative people are wired differently. While there may be the odd unicorn who is happy to abide by workflows and Excel spreadsheets, creatives are usually happiest in a less structured, regimented environment. Here's how to create an environment that lets your creative team thrive while also ensuring all that big picture thinking results in something real and tangible.
Foster a Creative Environment
Sure, you can force creativity if you really want. But the better way to get the most from your creatives is to create an environment that lets them float ideas, brainstorm, and experiment without worrying about rigid rules, structures, or expectations. Here's how.
- Think beyond the desk. Let your creatives work in an environment more conducive to creative work. Set aside some creative office space. Encourage out-of-doors working. Arrange a trip to a coffee shop, museum, or art gallery. You want your creatives to feel free to create - not bound by the rigidity of a desk and chair.
- Tap into your creatives' desires. Your creatives are going to deliver their best work when they're doing something they love. Find out what drives and inspires each member of your creative team, and allow them to leverage those strengths wherever possible. If a project means fulfilling a lifelong creative dream, you can bet your creatives will knock it out of the park.
- All ideas are good ideas. Encourage your creatives to read, watch and listen as broadly as possible, and to share any resulting ideas—the more weird and unusual, the better. Not everything is going to work for a particular project, but every idea helps you get closer to what does. Plus, they can always be recycled for future projects.
- Keep non-creatives out of it. Nothing derails an amazing creative discussion like an executive sitting in and worrying about deadlines or budgets. Let your creative director act as a go-between (and sometimes voice of reason), but keep non-creatives as far away as possible.
Always Celebrate Collaboration
Great ideas can happen in a vacuum, but extra brainpower can really help take an idea from good to amazing. There's a reason that TV shows have entire writers' rooms working on their jokes. Or that architects tend to work in teams. To make collaboration the norm in your office, here's what to do.
- Sit creatives close together. Don't isolate your creatives. Position them nearby so that it's easy to bounce ideas and offer feedback on new creative. The results will speak for themselves.
- Encourage dialog between different types of creatives. Not all creatives are alike. Copywriters come from a different place than graphic designers or videographers. Set up your projects so that everyone is working together from the get-go to build a shared vision and fill in any gaps.
- Train your team in problem-solving. Creative work isn't linear. Nor does it offer black and white solutions. If your team is butting heads or hitting a roadblock, make sure they have the problem-solving skills needed to work through the issue or encourage them to escalate unworkable problems to a creative director.
Don't Forget the Deliverables
Creative work can be a bit of a gray space for many brands. Things may take longer than anticipated or may end up proceeding in a totally different direction than first intended. To prevent yourself from being blindsided or having to apologize to your clients, try the following.
- Provide a proper brief. If you want your creative team to stay on task and on budget, take the time to provide a clear creative brief. Simply ending over an email with the subject line like "we need an ad" is a recipe for (expensive) disaster. Set boundaries, and you'll be all the happier for it.
- Schedule regular check-ins. Arrange regular internal meetings to discuss milestone deliverables and provide feedback on current creative. This will help ensure that your creatives are moving forward with a project and in a direction that checks the boxes on a particular creative brief.
- Provide timelines (but be flexible). It's amazing how creative you can be when a deadline requires it. Give your team reasonable deadlines and milestones so that you know the work is proceeding the way it should. But build in some additional flexibility just in case.
Managing a creative team is more about leading than micro-managing. Your job is to create an environment that allows your creatives to do what they do best - along with some guardrails to make sure it happens. Trust your team, and they'll deliver work that helps put you on the map.
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