Learning Paths

How To Manage A Creative Team Effectively

As a manager, you need to be a connoisseur, a protector, and a fan of your creative colleagues. It’s a big call and not for the faint-hearted, we are sure you will agree. And oh, the drama! Just like wine and art connoisseurs don’t need to beexperts in winemaking or painting to know what quality is, the manager of creative colleagues is in a similar position; he/she does not come up with creative ideas, but must recognise and incentivise creative work of the highest quality.

The Manager-Guard

Managers of creative colleagues must be content with guard duty, and if they have additional eyes on the back of their heads, it will benefit them. Those working in creative fields need protection from the bureaucratic procedures that normally accompany organisational functioning, as a species, they are allergic to it.

There is a wide range of rules, regulations, and procedures that organisations employ to ensure their security and predictability – everything from parking spaces and dress codes to management diagrams and promotion criteria. All very useful, and all very important, for laudable reasons, to ensure security and predictability. Creativity, however, is not secure or predictable; it is insecure and unpredictable, and the best environment for its growth is a dynamic environment of competing ideas, ideologies and practices. Is there such a place? Only if the manager creates it!

The Manager-Supporter

Clearly, the manager-protector must be keenly aware of the company’s interests, because not only does the manager have to respect the creatives’ best interests, but he or she must also implement those aims and strategies through them. Managers must be able to translate company objectives into a language that will engage and excite employees instead of repelling them. As it appears, the manager is now responsible for communicating with the bureaucracy we have been warned about. A wise manager will not rely on timeframes, budgets, and sales figures to motivate creatives – these are all extrinsic motivators, but rather on the higher-minded ideals of company goals. These will have a great appeal to many creatives if they’re recognised as aspirational. As they learn about the goals, they will sense the intrinsic motivation, echoing a characteristic of deep creativity: the ability to engage in an exciting endeavour, not for extrinsic reasons – such as salary or parking space – but for the intrinsic pleasure and value of the task itself.
 

The Wise-Manager

When working with creative colleagues, the manager should be the loudest supporter of their work, their biggest fan. An important responsibility of this role is advocating the necessity of providing resources such as personnel, time, money, space and equipment in order to achieve the company’s goals. As creativity is unpredictable, the manager-fan may also have to negotiate for less predictable assets, perhaps exceptions to the usual rules of the office, such as defined working hours, location of work, and reporting lines. 

When working with creative colleagues, the manager should be the loudest supporter of their work, their biggest fan. An important responsibility of this role is advocating the necessity of providing resources such as personnel, time, money, space and equipment in order to achieve the company’s goals. As creativity is unpredictable, the manager-fan may also have to negotiate for less predictable assets, perhaps exceptions to the usual rules of the office, such as defined working hours, location of work, and reporting lines. 

While football fans are loyal to their clubs, they won’t accept poor performance for long or expect to become players. Similarly, creative managers should take a critical view of their team members’ work, and never be under the impression that working with them will somehow lead to the sharing of their strange gifts. A manager’s motivation for doing their job should come from facilitating creativity rather than creating it.

While football fans are loyal to their clubs, they won’t accept poor performance for long or expect to become players. Similarly, creative managers should take a critical view of their team members’ work, and never be under the impression that working with them will somehow lead to the sharing of their strange gifts. A manager’s motivation for doing their job should come from facilitating creativity rather than creating it.

One question screams out from this job description: how can creative managers be trained to perform their role? Programs will vary according to the needs of the company, but many will aim to equip managers with skills they can apply to:

  • understand the circumstances under which creativity thrives and withers;
  • replicate and maintain an environment supportive of creativity;
  • To appreciate the quality of creative work, you need critical taste and knowledge;
  • translating company goals into creative motivation; 
  • evaluation and explanation of the importance of the creatives’ work to the senior management.
 

Those who manage creatives are highly skilled ‘connoisseur-protector-fans’, or more simply patrons.

With Academy Class, we can assist you in becoming the ultimate manager-fan-connoisseur. With our Team Training Solutions, you can offer your colleges the finest quality of training to ensure that they are getting the most out of their time (as well as bank for the company’s buck!). See our team training solutions here.