A Cheat Sheet for Managing Creatives

Managing a team of creatives might seem like a daunting task. You might feel cautious in your approach because you want to be open and accepting of your employees while still being a firm leader and maintaining a certain level of organization. So how can you strike that perfect balance and allow your team plenty of room for creative growth? Below you’ll find the answer with a five-point cheat sheet we’ve created. These pointers will help you become a good leader for creative minds.

Know Your Team

The first step toward being a great creative manager is to know each of your team members. They were hired for a reason, and each person has their own set of special talents they bring to the table. Get to know these people and discover what their specific strengths are and what motivates them. Find out how they get inspired so you can make the most out of their talents by asking simple questions like “What is your ideal work environment?” or “When do your best ideas come to you?” Show your team that as a manager you care about their preferred work styles.

Pick an Effective Style

Be sure from the beginning you know exactly what kind of leader you are going to be and keep that a constant in the workplace. Pick a management style that will best foster each individual’s skills and the overall creative growth of your employees. Avoid an authoritative or pacesetting-type style where your creative employees are likely to feel stifled and unable to express themselves. Think of yourself as more of a coach and find a style which complements that approach. It will allow you to take your employees forward in their goals and bring out their best talents as opposed to shrinking them.

Have an Open Mind

You may have a specific way you want things done, or have a certain routine in which you’ve always accomplished tasks, but try to be open-minded and listen to what your creative team members have to say. They may have a much more efficient way of getting something done that could save you a lot of time and money down the road, but you won’t know unless you try the idea. Listening to and experimenting with the ideas of your creative employees will also make them feel valued in the company. This gives creatives a sense of freedom that will cause good ideas to bloom all around the workplace.

Encourage Risk-Taking

A typical trait of creative-oriented minds is that they tend to be risk-takers. However, many people in the workplace are more reserved when it comes to taking risks because they fear the failure they may face, especially in front of their colleagues. As a manager, you need to be sure your team knows that it is okay to fail, as long as they pick themselves up and get back to doing what they are brilliant at; creating. Try telling your employees of a time you took a risk and failed, but more importantly highlight what it is you learned from that experience. Letting your team see that you make mistakes doesn’t make you look weak, but sets a good example of how to succeed past failure, and encourages them to not harbor a fear of taking risks.

Maintain a Good Structure

Although enforcing structure in a company may sound like the opposite of encouraging creativity, you are still in a workplace and maintaining a level of organization is essential if goals are to be met. A great way to have a routine, yet still keep the creative juices flowing is to reserve gaps in the work structure where creative employees have room to be a little chaotic. Google does this by setting aside what they call “20% time,” where employees are allowed to work on any kind of project they would like for the company. Out of this work structure emerged Google Maps, Gmail, Google Talk and Adsense, which now makes up 25 percent of Google’s revenue. Bottom line: keep your team members on the same path but give them the tools to mark it however they choose.

When managing creatives, you have to be prepared for more out-of-the-box thinking, but also be able to pull everyone together and lead them to success. If you are open, willing to listen and encourage your team’s talents they will respect you as a leader.

Looking for more industry insights? Check out our other articles on the Scoop Blog



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