Adobe MAX 2016 Session Preview: Your Guide to Building the Best Creative Team
The Creative Group is a 2016 MAX partner, and they’ll be hosting a session that dives into a strategy for building and nurturing a successful creative team. In this post, Diane Domeyer gives us a preview of that session.
Attention employers: Building a great creative team doesn’t have to be a challenge. Knowing that the process is part art, part science will keep you on track. I’ll be exploring this important topic in greater depth during a Creative Team of the Future panel discussion at Adobe MAX.
Looking to assemble a standout creative team for your firm or department? Follow my five-point prescription.
- The Right People
To build the best creative team, you need the best people and the right number of them. A good way to gauge whether you’re on the right track is by evaluating technical skills, collaboration abilities, productivity and team size.
- Skills. Begin with assessing intellectual assets. This is the science of building a creative team. You need individuals who have the right technical skills and expertise (like software knowledge), as well as adequate experience. This can be challenging with the ever-changing digital world, but having access to knowledge of the latest technologies via full-time employees or consultants is crucial.
- Workplace fit. Can you define what makes a good match for your department and organization? This is the art part of building a creative team. The right fit needs more than the rote skills listed in the job description to excel; he or she must also possess the personality, soft skills and work style to fit in with the workplace culture.
- Team size. Integral to creative team building is having the right staffing level. Do you have flexibility to seamlessly staff up or down during slowdowns and busy seasons? Being able to add key skills as needed to handle elevated work periods — or fill skills gaps — keeps teams running smoothly.
- The Right Process
Having the best creative team means employees are not just passionate and creative, but also productive and efficient. To be productive and efficient, they need clearly defined expectations. Effective team leaders set tangible targets, such as deadlines, production schedules and scopes. With this structure, creative teams can flex their brilliance and meet goals, with checks and balances along the way.
- The Right Leadership Approach
It’s essential that your creative team leader has the expertise to communicate with the team. But that alone won’t make him or her an effective leader. The best leaders convey a clear vision and inspire others to create. They are humble, approachable and decisive. A strong team leader should know when to embrace the team’s feedback and when to stand firm on a decision. Three basic areas leaders should focus on:
- Valuing open communication between team members and management. While there should be rules of engagement, it should also be understood that there are no dumb questions.
- Using team-based solutions to problems. Ask how others would handle issues or setbacks.
- Fostering a safe-to-fail and safe-to-risk environment. Creativity can’t thrive if risk and failure aren’t options.
- The Right Environment
Creative teams need creative workspaces. Inspiration can be stifled when teams are divided, isolated or restricted. Find opportunities within your office to inspire free thinking. That may mean using a conference room as a place to collaborate or arranging desks in groups to encourage interaction. The right environment might also mean providing access to proprietary tools and software for both onsite and remote employees. Flexibility to work anytime, anywhere often equates to enhanced productivity and employee satisfaction.
- The Right Vision
It’s imperative that you establish for your team the bigger purpose of the project, department and company. What’s the mission of each? How does each mission come together to serve one greater goal? For example, if you are building a website, every team member, from the UX designer to the copywriter to the front-end web developer unified on mission, goal and purpose — not just for their roles but also for the final deliverable. This is the essence of an effective creative team: understanding how individual contributions and collaboration lead to success.
Diane Domeyer is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. For more career and management advice, check out The Creative Group blog.