According to Nelson Rodriguez, Vice President of Global Marketing of Aquent and Contributor to Entrepreneur.com, managing creative employees can be challenging. It’s a steady balancing act of maintaining a nurturing environment that encourages employees to take risks and explore new directions, and pushing your employees to ensure work is produced on time and on budget.
Rodriguez seems to have found a happy medium and has come up with 5 keys to successfully manage creative employees without creating a restricting environment.
Make teamwork the priority. Negative feedback is always tough to give. Giving negative feedback to creatives is even harder. To make it easier as well as promote constructive feedback, focus on the value of teamwork as opposed to individual accomplishments. This way you aren’t singling anybody out; you are rallying your team to pitch in and collectively find a new solution.
Cultivate non-attachment. Encourage open mindedness. It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, they are creating for the business, not their own personal fulfillment. Also, realistically, whatever they come up with will ultimately undergo edits and in some cases even be thrown out. Rodriguez advises to “adopt an agile approach: Produce ideas quickly, provide timely feedback and push for rapid iterations of concepts.” This will make it less likely to become overly attached to ideas.
Hiring is key. Hire people that possess the mindset you need and can function on an egoless team. This can be tricky to find because you need individuals that are both talented and able to take constructive feedback when it comes to their work; someone who is open to trying new ideas. Key traits to look out for here are individuals that are keen on finding solutions and looking at a piece of work from every possible angle.
Don’t point fingers. The key here is to be consistent – in sickness and in health. You can’t encourage teamwork while things are going well and then point fingers and blame specific people when things don’t go as planned. You have to be all in when you’re part of a team; you share your success as well as your failures.
Customize your praise. This may seem hypocritical, following the previous statement; however, it is also important to recognize individual efforts. As much as people enjoy celebrating collective achievements, they also appreciate and deserve recognition for their personal contributions. Approach your team members to find out “how they prefer to be recognized and then show your appreciation appropriately”.
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