How to Manage a Creative Team

Creatives aren’t like most people. As much as creatives talk about unequal treatment and different expectations, the truth is that creative professionals require a unique type of management to ensure they are as productive as possible. Left to their own devices, creatives can spend eons imagining ineffective albeit intriguing concepts, which means it takes a special kind of leader to guide their idea formation on a deadline.

No one is inherently creative, and no one can effectively lead a creative team without training and practice. Here are a few tips to help prospective creative leaders thrive.

Practice Creativity

Few successful businesses would place a computer-novice as head of the IT department. Similarly, a non-creative will hardly flourish as a leader of a creative team. Leaders must understand their workers, and the best way to anticipate the needs and wants of creatives is to become one.

Creativity is a muscle, figuratively speaking, and with frequent practice, anyone can become imaginative, innovative, and inspired like a creative-type. Leaders should consider becoming involved in the creative work of their teams to experience the day-to-day struggles of being a creative worker and comprehend just how hard being creative can be. Plus, creative-types tend to respect and appreciate their bosses more if their bosses demonstrate creative talent.

Understand Individual Skills

A creative person knows too well that not everyone is creative in the same way. One member of a creative team may create mindboggling digital art while another is more adept at using ink and paper. Understanding the strengths of individual team members will allow leaders to assign projects more effectively and see higher-quality work.

Therefore, leaders must spend some time assessing the traits of individual workers, developing those traits into usable skills, and adapting those skills to the work at hand. Though it might be difficult, leaders should remain as objective as possible during this process to avoid improperly appraising a creative-type’s talent. Some strengths aren’t always obvious, so leaders must be patient and observant to find the most powerful teams.

Have Processes Available

Just as not every creative-type boasts the same skills, not every creative-type is willing or able to adhere to the same process of creation and development. Though business thrives on organized systems, many creatives simply cannot function outside their own creative process, which means most leaders must adapt their own organizational processes in order to give everyone adequate space to work in their own ways.

Adjusting your expectation and work environment to best suit each creative-focused employee can be a challenge, especially since it sometimes might go against strict deadlines and demanding clients. This is where devising creative problem-solving capabilities learned while earning an advanced degree on organizational leadership can help those in higher positions. With subtle reminders from qualified leaders, creatives can stay on-task and do good work, reducing the chance of broken deadlines and frustrated clients.

Keep Them Busy

More than anything else, creatives love to create. Whenever creative-types endure long periods without creating, they become grumpy and bored, and they become likely to leave in search of more fertile ground for their creative energy. It is best to keep creatives engaged with challenging and intriguing projects, so their skills stay sharp and their moods high.

Unfortunately, leaders will soon learn that there will be dry spells when projects are few and far between, and their creative team threatens to atrophy. During these periods, leaders must have strategies to keep their teams active in creation. Whether it is refinement of past projects, creative games, or personal practice, leaders should have some recourse to keep creative minds and hands busy.

Impose Breaks

Even though creative-types get antsy when they aren’t working hard, leaders of creative teams should constantly be on the lookout for signs of burnout. When creatives seem physically tired, act jealously, require longer to complete projects, and seek isolation, they might be suffering from a lack of creative energy, which is bad for business.

The best way to solve burnout is to prevent it entirely, which means leaders should ensure their creative team has plenty of time to switch off their creativity. Providing plenty of vacation time, enforcing off-hours and weekends, and scheduling breaks throughout the workday will help stop burnout before it starts.

Tell the Truth

Creatives thrive on feedback; they cannot hone their creative skill without outside input on their completed works. Usually, creative-types will be more than happy to receive any compliments and criticisms leaders can give. However, sometimes, the truth might feel too harsh to say. Still, leaders must be willing to help their teams succeed, even if it means being severely, painfully honest. Only then will creativity mature, and only then will leaders feel confident in their ability to lead a creative team.

Source: InspirationFeed is a Business Angel Network accredited by the Malaysian Business Angel Network (MBAN) the official trade association and governing body for angel investors and angel clubs in Malaysia. We strive to bring entrepreneurs and investors in Asia to fuel the startup ecosystem.

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Sally Yip

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