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Five Tips For Managing Creative Talent

Five Tips For Managing Creative Talent

As I walked back to the Aquent office the other day, I passed by Celtics coach Doc Rivers. Like any good Bostonian, I gave a quick smile and let him be. Alas, an enthusiastic young guy nearby could not do the same. After telling Rivers what a big fan he was, he accosted him and began advising him about what he ought to be doing with the team. Wow, I guess coaching talent is tough, no matter who you are. So in honor of our pal Doc, here are five quick tips on managing creative talent:

  • Involve freelancers in brainstorming. Invite your freelance creative designers, marketers, and writers to participate in brainstorming sessions and encourage them to contribute suggestions. Not only can they share new ideas with the team—they’ll get a better sense of the context of key marketing decisions.
  • Give as much notice as possible. The best creative talent gets picked up quickly, so when possible, plan ahead when hiring new freelancers.
  • Give them creative spaces. In the words of Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter, “creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working effectively together to solve a great many problems.” Creative people don’t thrive in cubes. They need to bounce ideas off of one another. Give your creative team spaces to talk, laugh, debate, and inspire each another.
  • Let them take a few risks. Give your creative teams a bit of free reign to try out new ideas. There’s nothing wrong with making a few mistakes along the way. Even the discovery of penicillin was a mistake! Experiments aren’t only for scientists. The first Bose Wave radio seemed like a crazy idea when developers first thought of it but it turned out to be a breakout success.
  • Challenge them. We’ve found creative talent are motivated most by stimulating work. Give them a huge challenge and they’re likely to wow you.

Keeping creative talent engaged and, well, "creative" is no easy task. They're artists and dreamers. They don't fit into a square box (they prefer to design the box). Manage them well and bring out their creative best and they'll bring fresh ideas and great work to your organization. What are your five tips to manage creatives  -- or five tips on what brings out your creative best?


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