Creatives who work together need to be close, but not like friends and family close. I’m talking creative team close. Creatives use skills that they’re deeply passionate about, typically so much so they couldn’t imagine working in a non creative position. When the stakes are that high, it's that much more important to think of the team you work with as a creative community, and not just people in your department.
Access to High Quality Feedback
Working within a creative community makes any artist better in their field, mostly from the ability to bounce ideas off of one another. Even if your skill sets are different, creative communities are a great way to frequently access highly specialized feedback. Whether you’re just asking for a second pair of eyes or fully collaborating, creative teams can push each other to grow simply from engagement. Being able to seamlessly collaborate is a sure-fire way to get creatives producing their best work.
Take writing for example. While writing is a solo activity, countless famous authors and playwrights reached out to their creative community for advice. Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, and E.M. Foster were prominent members of the Bloomsbury Group, which met in London to discuss and share their ideas. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce were notable members of Stratford-on-Odeon, while C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were part of the Inklings.
All of these writers were talented individuals but interacting with other gifted creatives allowed them to refine their craft. While you might not be expecting your team to produce a classic piece of literature, having access to that type of high quality feedback will elevate whatever create work is at hand.
Familiarity Doesn’t Always Breed Contempt
Creatives can relate to each other in extraordinary ways, but not all interactions are productive. Any group tasked with a complex problem or forced to spend long periods of time together is prone to conflict. Miscommunications, opposing opinions and strategies, power dynamics, and personality clashes are bound to happen. Constructive conflict can yield excellent results, but managers have to know when to let disagreements occur and when to interfere.
In 7 Ways to Motivate Your Creative Team, it’s stressed that great creative work requires the makers to share a piece of who they are. It’s hard to not take criticism personally, but without honesty and regular feedback, it is more difficult for talent to improve. Globalization also puts a strain on creative work. Virtual offices and telecommuting make building important relationships challenging because you miss out on the traditional opportunities to bond that come with in-person interactions. Trust takes longer to develop when you’re not co-habiting a physical space, and working remotely can leave your team members feeling disconnected and alone.
Frequent constructive communication is very important, regardless of whether or not your team is remote. The best way to start developing a creative community is to have a shared vision and to pursue it with empathy. Being open, honest, and supportive of one another can help bypass navigating insecurities and leave more time for creative problem solving.
When Communities Strive and Thrive
In a creative industry, sharing knowledge is important and leads to improved engagement, productivity, and innovation. Companies should strive for a communal feel for their creative team: not only does it improve retention rates, but a study by Wyatt Watson for Explorance also found that companies with highly engaged employees produce 26% higher revenue per employee.
As discussed in How to Incentivize Your Creative Team, collaborations should be rewarded. Building that sense of community is a huge team motivator; when people become engaged and excited to come to work, they perform at their very best.
More importantly, they develop a sense of belonging. In a department, you are a member of a division of a business or organization that deals with a specific area of activity. In a community, you are a part of a team that bands together and helps one another achieve their best work. There are a lot of soft skills that you just can’t Google. Having hands-on access to a creative team allows you to learn in ways that you didn’t think existed before.