Every manager wants stellar work from their creative teams, but only a few achieve it. Why? Because most fail to invest in their people’s skills and show them the future. Many shy away from taking such initiatives thinking that it needs a big budget to invest in their employees’ professional growth while others think that employees will start jumping ship once they find better opportunities and the investment will become futile.
Here you need to understand two things. First, job hopping will be a prevalent factor when economy improves. Second, there are ways to earn your team’s long-term support without investing a fortune. Studies indicate designers and other creative professionals are increasingly concerned about staying engaged and challenged on the job. With managers supporting team members to fulfil their career goals, businesses have better chances to foster growth, especially when team members too are expressing strong desires for mentoring, training and one-on-one discussion with top-tier management about how to rise the corporate ladder.
These are the kind of investments you need to make to facilitate the long-term career growth of your people. Although they don’t need much capital investment, they demand your time and attention. Compared to the results you can achieve, this is a little price you have to pay to grow a creative team that delivers stellar work, every time.
Here are 7 tips on how managers can grow a creative team to boost the company’s productivity and profitability.
1. Hire Smarter People
While they won’t usually accept, most managers are skeptic about hiring people smarter than them. But if you want to foster a creative environment, you need to understand one thing – you can’t do it alone. If you are the only one in the team who has all the answers every time, you are likely to become the bottleneck and it often leads to micro-management, which will adversely affect your team’s creativity.
Having people smarter than you in the team will not only help you speed up the delivery process as they don’t have to wait for your approval on every decision, it is also foster growth within the team. Your team members will be able to learn from each other and help each other grow. Better yet, they can even solve issues on their own without waiting for you, allowing the team to become truly agile.
2. Identify the Skill Gaps of Your Creative Team
Simply conduct an informal survey and make notes where your team members are struggling and/or need to improve. These insights will help you understand the type of training your creative team needs and you can cater to those needs. This is one of the best ways to spend your professional development dollars.
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3. Get Your Team Organized
To get your team organized you need to create a collaborative environment. Establish a system to share information, ideas and documents and keep them organized. This helps your team running smoothly and also ensure that good ideas don’t get lost and see the light of day. Using project management tools and productivity apps is one of the best ways to get your people to share information and collaborate freely.
Each team member must be able to access files and documents anytime and anywhere without requiring to browse through folders orb emails. Collaboration also helps to keep all your team members on the same page, establishing a transparency within the team.
4. Don’t Get into Their Way
When you have hired smart, capable people for your team, the best you can do is get out of their way. Going back to what we said about micro-management; nobody likes it and it will only kill your team’s creativity. Your people know what they are doing so stay away from being an unintended hindrance. Instead, help eliminate other obstacles from their path so that they can focus on what they are doing.
That said, we are not asking you to abandon them. Understand their needs and roadblocks, track and analyze their progress and performance, to listen to their concerns, and ask questions, if need be.
5. Give Honest, Thoughtful Feedback
Continuing from where we left in the previous point, give honest, unbiased and thoughtful feedback to your team members based on what you see. Just saying “it looks good” or “I don’t like it” is hardly a good or even a useful feedback, especially if you know it can be improved on. Similarly, don’t over criticize; if you don’t like it, just tell them along with the areas where they can improve it.
Constructive feedback is really useful. If it is a client feedback you’re dealing with, curate it and consolidate the comments so that it makes sense for your team. But if the client feedback actually makes no sense, dare to push back to your client.
6. Affirm Them
Creativity thrives on affirmation. When it comes to your creative team, you need to affirm their work and encourage them to put a little piece of themselves in the design, rather than following convention and templates blindly. And when you encourage their hard work, it goes a long way to build trust and loyalty.
Instead of being critiques on their work, make your reviews and feedback more of a discussion. Understand that it is a subjective field and constructive criticism along with an affirmation of their hard work is one of the best ways to recognize their efforts. It also creates a positive impact on your team; they know you have their best interest in mind.
7. Give a Break
Give your people a break from time to time. Honestly, sitting in front of the computer always is neither productive nor recommended. Let them get away from the machine from time to time; this usually helps keeping their creative juices flowing.
Encourage them to spend some time finding inspiration or let them work outside their cubicle; the goal is to break the monotony so that they can relax, recoup and come back with a fresh eye and mind.
Realize that your ultimate goal is to keep your creative team happy and productive. These brief points discussed in this post can spark enough ideas and inspirations to grow and manage your team effectively. However, never try to rush things; you need to practice it long enough before you start seeing the results.