Herding Cats – A Guide To Managing Creatives!

I have been in management for much of my previous career, as well as my current role as Managing Partner of Focal Point Marketing.

Much of that time was spent managing physicians, which made my job very challenging. I never thought leading a team could get more interesting until I began working with creatives.

What is a creative, you may ask. Creatives are artists such as graphic designers, web developers, video producers, and social media and digital media experts, who are known for their quirkiness.

I quickly found managing this crew is quite different than the physicians I supported. At times, I just have to stand back and re-group so I can be on the same mental plane of someone who spends hours tediously speaking another language I simply do not understand.

I’ve come to know there truly is an art to getting the most out of a creative team. Often I take the approach I did when raising my children when I did not want to squash their spirit:

  • Don’t give them very many rules
  • Let them take breaks to play a little b-ball or peruse the internet to help stimulate the creative process
  • Encourage ideas and questions (sometimes this is dangerous!)
  • Don’t try to structure them too much
  • Provide choices
  • Cater to each person’s strengths

I’ve come to know there truly is an art to getting the most out of a creative team. Often I take the approach I did when raising my children when I did not want to squash their spirit

CREATIVE CULTURE

One thing I know for sure, managing creatives is never boring or dull. The side conversations I hear around the office can make me laugh out loud or sometimes make my hair stand on end. When spontaneous song breaks out in the office and the whole crew joins in, I’m no longer surprised. Sometimes I even take the lead.

Brainstorming sessions can get wild. These unique, independent, and unpredictable individuals (some may call them quirky) have taught me many lessons including:

  • There is not only one right way
  • Freedom of thought is highly correlated with creativity
  • Etiquette lessons are not for everyone
  • Healthy confusion can sometimes be good

My own creative mojo has vastly increased during the past six years. And I’ve also expanded my vocabulary to include phrases like, “Um, you can’t say that when a client is in the office!” “Seriously, man!” and “Okay, children!”

In the end, the job of managing creatives has been both inspiring and eye opening.  It has taught me that you can “Herd Cats,” you just have to be strategic about it!