No matter if you’ve managed creatives before or are new to the role, it’s always good to keep your management skills honed and ready — especially when working with a freelance creative team.
Before we dive in, consider this: If your job (8-10 hours a day) was to create designs, stories, or online experiences, what would you need to succeed? In other words, when are you at your most creative? Maybe it’s when you’re listening to music or exercising. Brainstorming, cooking, or sitting quietly. Everyone is creative somewhere in our lives; the only difference is the environment of inspiration.
That’s the key to managing creatives — inspiration. Many managers think this means coddling, spoiling, or giving special treatment, which only serves to reinforce the concept that creatives are “difficult divas.” Consider, instead, the following ways to get the most out of your creative team(s):
- Involve freelancers in brainstorming. Your freelance creative designers, marketers, and writers do this on every project. Inviting them to participate in strategic brainstorming sessions brings fresh perspective and new ideas to your projects. It also gives them a context of key marketing decisions to work from, instead of guessing what creative approach you want.
- Build the best team. When hiring creative freelancers for a new project or to augment your in-house team, pre-planning is a must. The best creative talent get picked up quickly, so when possible, plan ahead.
- 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 other.
- 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. The first Bose Wave radio seemed like a crazy idea but it turned out to be a breakout success.
- Challenge your creatives. Creative talent are stimulated by huge challenges. Given the key information and deadlines they’re more than likely to wow you.
Keeping creative talent engaged isn’t as difficult as it may be made out to be. It just takes planning and a slightly different mindset. Go ahead, be creative about it!