So, you have the job of managing the creative team process for your business. Firstly, we’ll pray for you, but secondly, we’ll provide some tips we have learned over the years to improve our own internal creative processes.
At first thought, “creative” and “process” really don’t seem to go together. Raise your hand if you’ve known creatives to be process oriented…
Yet, the creative work has to be done and the process-oriented folks are usually cranking out something like this:
Yeah, not who I want doing our social media graphics…
So, in the interest of keeping up the aesthetic of our businesses, we work with who has the right skills for the job. But, I don’t want to give the impression that creatives have to fit this stereotype. As a creative myself, I have had to learn over the years various process improvements to get my work done more effectively and efficiently.
If you’re struggling to manage your internal creative process, I urge you to implement the following suggestions that will help your team thrive.
1. Give Your Team a Budget
Your creative team process will work much better if you provide the right boundaries.
Creatives need limits in order to focus their skills in the right direction. If you can’t bring focus into the work, you’re going to get something that looks like this:
And that’s not what we want, although he does look pretty fun to hangout with.
Creative agencies tend to do a better job than internal teams at implementing budgets, because the billable work has to match what was estimated to the client. However, giving your team a budget for time and expenses for any given project is important in both situations.
The next time you give your team a project or task to complete (no matter how small), give them some idea of how long they should spend doing it. It’s better than looking back and seeing 8 hours of precious time spent on a business card design for the new intern.
2. Set Periodic Check-Ins
Let’s face it, no one likes meetings. They’re flat out exhausting and rarely produce any deliverable value.
What’s the worst kind of storm? A brainstorm session.
Even so, it’s important to make sure your team is always on the same page. The easiest way to do this is to set morning check-ins a few times a week to follow up on key deliverables, where the team is at on long-term projects, clients updates, etc.
It’s important not to let these run over 20-30 minutes, but there should be intense focus on who needs to do what and when.
When you have these quick meetings, make sure you or someone regularly takes notes and puts items in your project management software of choice! It’s too easy to just listen and forget. We use ClickUp to manage our clients and tasks in an organized way.
3. Give Feedback, Not Your Artistic Opinion
It’s hard not to insert your personal opinion into the work when asked for feedback. Everyone has an opinion on anything when asked.
To avoid this classic mess up, change your perspective when giving feedback on creative projects. Focus on the goal of the project and theme, or the client’s point of view. Remember the industry setting for the project, competitors, and target audience.
Try to push back your initial reaction and dig for objective feedback. This will avoid your creative team process from being derailed.
4. A Consistent Process, or None at All
Once you have determined a process, it’s important to make sure everyone is following it the same way.
You should have one place for the creative department where the following information lives and is updated on a regular basis:
- List of Current Projects
- To-Dos for the Team
- Team Logins
- File Storage
- Client/Management Feedback
- Master Calendar
Trust me, it’s not going to work well when you have someone tracking their projects in a notebook, someone is tracking it online, and another doesn’t track it at all and is somewhere on a meditative mental walk.
5. With Great Authority Comes Great Responsibility
If your creative process is a mess and you are struggling to figure out why, pay attention to this sneaky issue that prevents teams from completing projects on time: lack of authority.
Often times, and I am guilty of this, managers will give their employees a project to work on, but not the authority to make the key decisions or approvals that are needed to keep the project moving.
It’s completely fine if you have not developed that trust yet with your team; you can still be the decision maker. But, remember that those key approvals and milestones in the project all take time to review. If you have the time, then great.
On the other hand, if you are slammed like many managers and juggling all of the other things that come with managing a creative team, then you need to delegate the responsibility for smaller decisions to the team. Just make sure that the key stakeholders of the project have the authority to keep it from getting stuck.
Get Specific Help Improving Your Creative Team Process
At Crossroads, we have business and leadership coaches with years of experience helping small business owners build and manage their team. If you are looking for help with a unique issue regarding your internal team structure, processes, or marketing strategy, contact us to schedule a free intro session.