How to Empower Creative Teams
A great idea that meets a customer need that’s brought to market at exactly the right moment can lead to tremendous growth and ROI. Successful businesses have found ways to enhance creativity, promote creativity and innovation within their organizations, and build a culture of empowerment in the workplace to enable people to flourish.
Innovation and break-through-the-clutter marketing is more important today than it has ever been. But many things can get in the way of creativity within your organization. Even small businesses often get stalled because they put roadblocks in the way of true creativity. Just like you wouldn’t ask an architect to design a dream home and then take away their drafting table, you need to give your creative team the support and tools they need to do what they do best -- create and innovate!
What is a Creative Team and How Do You Build One?
One of our favorite definitions of a creative team is:
“Creative teams are responsible for producing inspired, visually appealing content that serves a broader marketing strategy. They consciously shape a brand’s look, feel and voice to appeal to their target audience and stand out from competitors.”
That team may be comprised of:
- Content writers and developers
- Marketing copywriters
- Video producers
- Social media creators
- Graphic designers who work across a range of media
They may be in-house, external, remote, independent contractors, or some combination. Creative people possess qualities that may make them outliers in certain types of companies. Leaders want to engage them for fresh ideas, but may struggle with “controlling” them or leading them to collaborate with other work teams. Among the key qualities creative types exhibit, according to Indeed, are:
As you build a creative team within your organization, the first step is to define exactly what skills you need. For example, a great writer may not necessarily be a visual thinker. An art director may be brilliant but do their best work solo rather than in a collaborative environment. You need to be prepared to hire, empower, and retain the types of creative talent, with the right skill set, who will work best within your culture. Forbes offers up some great tips from agencies on what to look for in creative hires. And here are some terrific questions to ask candidates before you bring them on board.
Now the Real Creative Work Begins!
Let’s assume you’ve identified and hired the right group of creative talent to take your company to the next level and blow away the competition. You now need to do a few things to protect your investment.
Encourage, Empower and Reward Creativity
“There’s no such thing as a bad idea,” the old adage proclaims. Yet, many leaders will engage creative teams only to shoot down every novel or seemingly strange concept. That’s not to say that every idea will be a great one, but open your mind to new thinking and allow your creative talent to do what they do best. Mediate conflict between your creative team members and those who may be more literal or process oriented.
Create opportunities for all team members to participate in the creative process. For example, engineers can be wildly creative if given the opportunity. Do not limit problem-solving to those people who happen to have “creative” in their job titles or who sit in a specific part of the organization chart. When a great new idea leads to a new business opportunity or breakthrough results, celebrate the hell out of it! And remember, rewards are not always monetary. Public recognition, PTO, or even just a coffee gift card can be meaningful.
Make Sure Creatives Have the Tools They Need to Create
These tools fall into two main categories:
- The technologies people need to do their jobs.
- The technologies people need to collaborate better.
Graphic design applications abound. Make sure your creative team has the right ones, along with the proper training, to be able to make and share content, ads, and other business-critical marketing messaging that leads to sales. Even large companies can be overly-frugal when it comes to investing in state-of-the-art design and production software. Creative teams can also benefit from learning new techniques from others in the industry, so reward top performers with the ability to attend conferences (live or online) or subscribe to industry media.
This can be as important to creativity as a subscription to the latest version of a design or video editing platform. From the first stages of brainstorming through the final sign-off on a new ad, collaboration tools are a critical component of the creative process.
Just a few ways collaborative tools can fuel creativity, saving time and frustration are:
- Scheduling and project management systems: After all, if a great creative idea isn’t birthed until after the campaign launch date, what’s the point? Sharing and tracking deadlines is critical to every project and person -- even creatives!
- Briefing and brainstorming systems: Product managers, marketing leaders, and sales teams can weigh-in with their business needs, so that creatives get a clear sense of the purpose of what they’re creating.
- Digital asset management (DAM) systems: People no longer need to poke around to find the logos, images, legal language, and other “stuff” they need to create on-point messaging.
- Feedback, sharing and discussion systems: Giving teams a “place” where they can openly and honestly provide opinions is key to building a sense of empowerment. Creative teams often work best when they can see graphic examples of “best practices” or preferences. Online sharing of these assets can be made easy with the right system.
- Meeting spaces: When a team needs to come together to discuss a project, they should be as comfortable online as in a comfy conference room or kitchen. With the proliferation of remote work, these online rooms and technologies are more important than ever before.
As you build out your creative team -- internally or externally -- make sure you’re hiring the right people, setting-up the right systems for communication and collaboration, and investing in the right technologies to facilitate the process.