4 Common Mistakes When Managing Creative Teams – And How to Provide Leadership That Takes Your Team to the Next Level

Your creative team generates the great ideas that grab your customer’s attention, boost your brand image, and sell your products. Often this final output is all that people see, but as you know, there’s a lot more to the process than simply coming up with a bright idea.

Successful creative teams, those that consistently deliver great results, are led effectively and work with purpose within a framework that encourages creativity without restricting it.

But providing that environment isn’t easy.

Many creative professionals have horror stories about that one manager or client who sucked all the joy out of their job: imposing inefficient processes, making unreasonable demands, or simply failing to motivate the team.

Leading a creative team is tough; to ensure your team is effective you must successfully manage a wide range of skills, creative processes, and personalities.

Part of the problem is that leading creatives requires an understanding of both the creative process and management processes – and most people have more experience and understanding in one area, and less in the other.

We’ve noticed that this leads to some common mistakes which can reduce the effectiveness of your team.

Are You Guilty of These 4 Common Leadership Mistakes?

Here at Filecamp we not only have our own set of incredible creatives, but we also provide services for many other creative teams. We’d like to pretend this makes as all-knowing – but we’re just as fallible as the next team!

But our experience has revealed a pattern of mistakes that many teams fall into:

Mistake 1:

Failing to provide an effective creative brief will delay projects and frustrate creatives

It is a common misconception that a completely blank slate is the ideal scope for a creative team, and that when presented with such an opportunity they should be able to instantly make something brilliant.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way!

A completely limitless scope actually harms creativity because there are too many possibilities.

The overwhelmingly large amount of choice will delay projects – because your creatives will spend too much time considering the possibilities.

Instead, you need to provide them with a creative brief that clearly sets out the boundaries and constraints of the project. With a clear set of objectives in mind, they can quickly set about solving the problem and finding the most effective solution.

When you do provide a brief, make sure it contains everything you want them to know. It can be incredibly frustrating for your team when an incomplete brief creates the need for revisions that could have been avoided. A complete brief would have enabled them to get there with the first draft, saving time and money.

Mistake 2:

Smothering individual creative brilliance with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude can reduce inspiration – but creative chaos isn’t the answer

Businesses use processes for a reason; when every department submits their expenses using the same process, your finance team benefits, becoming more productive and saving time and money.

But imposing creative processes can act in the opposite fashion – when you force your team to comply with the same creative processes, you may limit individual creativity. Creative processes are often unique to individuals – they know the way of working that works for them, and trying to change that is rarely welcome.

But what happens when creative processes overlap with business processes?

For example, when meeting with a client, they will require certain deliverables – first a strategy, then an early design, and then the finished work. This process must be respected, or client relations will suffer.

The short answer is that if you have an effective brief (see the previous section), the boundaries and deadlines should be clear. Your team will know what is expected should then be supported in using their own individual creative processes within the scope.

Mistake 3:

A lack of effective constructive criticism damages professional relationships and discourages creative thinking

Creative material is highly subjective; what one person loves, another might hate. This makes giving feedback and criticism tough, especially when you take into account that the best creatives often invest more than just their time and effort in their work – they invest their emotion.

When feedback is delivered badly, people get hurt. This not only damages relationships, but it also discourages creativity and creative thinking. Because when people invest emotionally in a project and get hurt, they respond by investing less in the next project, which can harm the quality of their work.

Of course, the answer isn’t to avoid giving feedback, but to give more effective feedback. Here’s a simple outline:

  • Start with a positive – Don’t jump in with the negatives straight away. Start the conversation with something you like and show that you appreciate the time, effort, and skill they’ve put in.
  • Give constructive criticism – Next mention what you don’t like. Avoid using strong words like “hate”, using softer language instead. Always try to be clear what specifically you didn’t like so that changes can be made. For example, saying “I hate that headline” is more damaging and less effective than “This headline is too informal for this piece.”
  • End with a positive – End the discussion by going over the next steps and with a reminder of what you liked and your confidence in them to improve it.

Mistake 4:

Failing to provide the tools and processes that will support your team and business

One of the most important functions of a team leader is to remove barriers that prevent your team from doing their job.

Here at Filecamp we’re passionate about this because we’ve experienced first-hand the amount of time that creatives lose when a project is managed inefficiently.

Every minute your team spends looking for the right file or searching through their email for revision requests is a minute wasted which could be spent doing what they do best – creating.

Unfortunately, many teams are still making the mistake of relying on email to support their workflow, which is incredibly impractical when you’ve got multiple revisions and feedback going back and forth.

We set out to solve this problem by producing a no-nonsense tool that supports the creative workflow.

Filecamp features include:

  • Effective online proofing and collaboration with comments, annotation, and labels that can be made online from anywhere, at any time.
  • View labels and proofing status quickly and easily.
  • Upload, manage and share files from one secure location in the cloud.
  • Granular access control lets you provide the right level of access for every user, both employee, and client.

Is your team wasting time managing their files and workflow ineffectively? Could they benefit from improved collaboration?

If you answered yes to either of those questions why not try out Filecamp FREE for 30 days?

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