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Pro tips to managing, tricky but worth it, creative talent

(BUSINESS NEWS) Managing creative talent can be tough and often exhausting, but doing it well means a phenomenally operating team.


Right brainers

Creative employees represent a challenge for a great deal of employers and managers. The conditions that elicit creativity are often at odds with rigorous, scientific management.

But your creative talent is perhaps one of your greatest assets as a team and as an organization.

Hot tips and tricks

Sometimes, though, managing creatives can be a bit difficult. Here are a few tips to help keep the creative fires burning on your team:

  1. Give people autonomy over their work. This is not necessarily WHAT they are doing, but rather HOW they do things.
  2. Control internal challenges like over-formalization or processes that act as hindrances to a the creative process.
  3. Create trust – and maintain it. Employees who feel like they can’t trust their team or supervisor will not be encouraged to think creatively or experiment with ideas.
  4. Recognize. Recognition from yourself, peers, and other leaders for the work that is done. This is not necessarily a financial benefit or promotion promise, but rather true recognition for the work.
  5. Embrace teams. The myth of the “lone wolf inventor” is not the way most ideas are created. But rather, creativity can emerge from the contributions of a whole team – an idea built from smaller contributions.
  6. Bring in talent from a diverse perspective – in terms of experience, education, and skill sets, You can create teams from your internal or external talent pools. Don’t be afraid to mix the MBA’s and the artists, or the English majors and the engineers – dynamic team mixes can create powerful results and solve problems. Innovation is more likely when people of different disciplines, backgrounds and expertise interact, according to Frans Johansson.
  7. Embrace talents of employees outside of what you hired them to do. Perhaps your administrative assistant is actually a phenomenal artist – leverage those skills for a marketing or visual campaign.
  8. Balance process improvement with innovative thought as to not tie it down. Mark Fishman, of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, once mentioned that things like Six Sigma destroy innovation. Don’t run away from improving your processes, but don’t become so married to them that you are closing out new innovative solutions.
  9. Creative incentives to let it go. Many times you have an idea that may go nowhere or needs to be tabled – don’t just kill it and potentially demotivate your staff, but incentive them to let things go that can’t or won’t be successful.
  10. Create challenges, use gamification. Create contests or opportunities for employees to stretch creativity or to generate ideas quickly. Challenges can motivate or excite people.
  11. Give employees time to pursue their passions. Let them spend 10-20% of their week to their own interests, if possible.
  12. Embrace failure as an inevitable destination. No matter how successful, everyone fails eventually. Remind employees that failure where they learn from the process is valuable. Prevent your organization from becoming so afraid of failure they are afraid of innovation.

Work together

The management of creatives will continue to be important as we rely on them to create new solutions and experiences for customers, clients, and partners.

These are a few tips to get you started, but be prepared for the sometimes exhausting and evolving challenge. The greater the reward, after all, the greater the journey.


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Kam has a Master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and is an HR professional. Obsessed with food, but writing about virtually anything, he has a passion for LGBT issues, business, technology, and cats.

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