Last time we talked about the 5 skills every creative manager needs, we covered Communication, Empathy, Diplomacy, Reading the Team, and Organization. If you’re going to manage a team of creative people, these are 5 skills that you certainly should have. However, they are not the only skills that you’ll want. Creative managers need a wide range of skills and attributes to get the most out of their team, and ensure their employees are happy. If you already have the first 5 down, here are 5 more that you can add to your toolbox.
Balance structure with flexibility
In part one, we mentioned how a good creative manager will be able to read their team members and determine how much structure they need versus how much freedom they need. Even if you can get a good read on your team however, being able to walk this line is a skill in and of itself.
A good creative manager should be able to walk that line; a great creative manager should be able to do so on an individual basis. On one hand, you want to create a space where your creative people have timelines and guides to follow. On the other, you need to recognize that creative work is a process, and one that commonly needs some space to breathe.
Talk with your team to find a balance that is good for everyone and adjust as you go along. Walking that middle path takes practice but given time any creative manager can learn to do it.
Every person in a business is there for a specific reason. They bring unique skills to the table and have different strengths. The reason you have a creative team is because you can’t do the creative work on your own. These people think in a different way and produce better creative content than the other people in your office. As a creative manager, it’s important to keep this in mind.
Some managers will try to insert themselves too much into the creative process. Even though they weren’t hired to do creative work, they think of themselves as creative, and take control over the creative process as a result. Remember that you have a creative team for a reason, and that you should give them space to create without hijacking the process yourself.
There may also come a time when you and your creative team differ on a way to approach something or on a final product. During these times it’s important to remember why you have these people and consider that they might know better than you when it comes to creative work. That’s not to say that your creative team will always be right – there are other considerations to take into account that they might not have thought of, such as costs, research, or what other departments are doing. The point is to leave your ego behind and at least consider that your creative team might be right.
Ability to foster a creative environment
Creative people need a creative space in which to work. A good manager can do a lot to create this space. For example, you can:
- Allow your creative team to decorate their team meeting room.
- Encourage your creative team to become more comfortable with one another, scheduling team building activities both inside and outside of work.
- Set a tone of risk-taking within projects
- Promote learning new things and teaching them to others
If your creative employees must sit at a desk all day, can’t freely express their ideas, or never learn anything new, they won’t produce good work. Look around your office and think of ways you can loosen things up a bit while remaining professional. Remember that a creative environment isn’t just good for creative employees, but for everyone that works at the company, so the things you do for your creative team will benefit the company as a whole.
When someone comes into a job, they are bringing with them their own unique experiences, backgrounds, and ideas. A good creative manager will seek to employ people from all different walks of life, to get fresh ideas into the mix. If you only hire men from ivy league schools for example, you’re missing out on a lot of potential. People from different backgrounds can provide new insights when it comes to your customers, your products, and the way you do business. So, the next time you need to hire someone new for your creative team, look at the current makeup of the group, and look for someone who can bring in new ideas. If you’re stuck, here are some ways to introduce more diversity into your company.
See the Big Picture
Finally, a good creative manager will always have their eye on the larger picture. While your creative team is debating which word to use, or which logo works best, you have the big picture in mind. How does the slogan your creative team came up with fit into the brand image? What does your research say about the customer base? How can you most effectively use this creative work in a marketing strategy?
Your creative team needs to be able to trust that you will make good use of their hard work. If your creative team spends weeks working on something, only for the eventual campaign to fall flat, they will feel like their work doesn’t matter. A good creative manager will always keep the big picture in mind, while allowing their creative team to work on the details.
Work on your skills
Not every creative manager is going to have all 10 of these skills right away. Luckily, you can easily develop all of them with a little work and practice. The best thing you can do is keep them in mind as you work and get feedback from your team as you go along. As you try out new strategies, keep a log inside your project management tools so you can keep track of how things are going. As time goes on your skills will grow, and your entire team will benefit in the end.