Leading any team requires staying on your toes and using any number of different tactics and initiatives to keep the team happy, productive and nurtured.
If you are leading a particularly creative team you’ll need a bit more sensitivity to their individual skills. Here are my top tips to lead a creative team.
1. Know your people
Taking the time to really get to know each person on your team and understand how they work, what their talents are and what approach is best for them is the most important thing to you can do to make your job easier. It can take a while to build those relationships however you definitely should invest time in them. You’ll learn what makes your team tick and also what they thrive off.
2. Be clear and transparent in your communication
I can’t emphasise the importance of this enough! In creative businesses there is often so much going on all the time that it’s easy for things to become unclear or messages to get lost. Communication errors are at the heart of any fall-back we’ve had as a business.
We now go through all of our important communication in our team meetings but also confirm everything by email and if there is any urgent information that needs to be communicated then we pick up the phone. In addition to this we also use internal communication software and have a whatsapp group that’s been quite handy for getting messages sent and read instantly.
Remember that it’s important to explain the ‘why’, not just the ‘how’ or the ‘what’ with your team. The importance of your communication or message can really hit home with everyone when you can connect their creativity to a soul or a bigger purpose.
3. Don’t be afraid to do it differently
Remember, if your team are being paid to be creative, authentic and in their element then you can’t follow a traditional rule book in business. Your team will need more flexibility, playtime and trust to do their own thing.
4. Forward planning
Creatives are always brimming with new ideas and it’s easy to get overexcited with really cool ideas and fall into the trap of trying to do too much too soon. Take time to appreciate the amount of work and resources required for each idea and then spend time planning it out.
Helping your team forward plan will help to keep them relaxed throughout the duration of the project and really enjoy the process of taking an idea from concept to reality. Also, it will help with time management and allow room for unexpected delays.
If your teams are not comfortable making decisions or don’t take ownership of their work it’s most likely because they aren’t sure that they can or they are worried they may make a mistake.
Encourage ownership by getting your whole team on board with a clear vision of where the company is headed and how each person fits in to that vision. Make it clear that they are at the heart of the business and can make a big impact. People will really see how their role plays a part and then just give them the freedom to really take ownership of their work and responsibilities and remind them that it is ok to make mistakes and that they will always have the support and guidance they need.
Our company is known for its vibrancy and culture. People have occasionally joked, after seeing a team selfie or team video, ‘do you guys get any real work done?’ The answer is yes, we all work extremely hard and in reality we often don’t slow down enough which leads to burnout. Keep wellbeing at the forefront and remind yourself and your team that if you don’t look after yourself first, you won’t be able to add much value to your work.
It’s important to lead by example and take the time to disconnect from work. If you work late every day or if you respond to emails while on holiday then they may feel that there is an unspoken expectation for them to do the same. I’m guilty of this and have had to actively remind myself to switch off although I still forget occasionally!
7. Keep them busy
Our people work best when they have a few different projects to work on and have a healthy amount of responsibility and work on their plate. People can feel demotivated if their workload is made entirely of mundane tasks, has no real ‘juice’ or they have no responsibilities of their own. Healthy confusion is actually a very good thing so keep your people busy, be flexible to their needs and always make sure they are not overworked.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article.