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Keep Your Team On Track Without Disrupting the Creative Process

Team leaders have the important and often challenging responsibility of managing time, tasks, and resources to meet specific deadlines. This responsibility can be especially tricky for creative teams.

Team leaders have the important and often challenging responsibility of managing time, tasks, and resources to meet specific deadlines. This responsibility can be especially tricky for creative teams. Communication, flexible scheduling, and setting tangible goals are the fundamental practices to keep creative teams on track. Here’s how to implement each.

Communication

Creatives have a unique way of thinking, functioning, and communicating. Great creative minds sometimes come up with their best ideas in the middle of the night, while they're showering, or in the middle of lunch, so open-ended communication is the best way for them to explain their ideas to the team when a great idea strikes.

James Webb Young describes this way of thinking in his book, A Technique for Producing Ideas, in which he outlines the creative process in five steps. The third step is Unconscious Processing, where a creative should “turn the problem over to your unconscious mind and let it work while you sleep.” After this processing stage comes step four -- The A-Ha Moment. When this moment strikes, it’s important that your team can quickly share their ideas with others working on the project or task at hand. Fortunately, there are many communication tools, Google Hangouts, Slack, Skype, etc. that allow creative teams share information and ideate quickly.

Schedule Flexibility

Nothing stifles a creative professional more than a strict 9-5 work schedule. It may feel counterintuitive for managers to relinquish control of scheduling, but creatives often function at much higher levels when they can choose when to work, which may not always coincide with the traditional work day. Mason Currey illustrates this in his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, where he plotted the daily schedules of some of the world’s most original artists.

Consider developing a schedule that gets everyone together once or twice a week and a work management strategy that allows your team greater flexibility to meet their deliverables according to how and when they work best. The more you set short-term, tangible goals that everyone can orient their days and weeks around, the easier this becomes. This is also where a workflow management solution can help you to keep your team and your projects on track, making sure that deadlines are being met and deliverables are completed.

Setting Tangible Goals

Tangible goal setting is critical for workflow management. Many creatives have a hard time dealing with work drudgery. They like to feel as though they are contributing to something big, and audacious long-term goals help drive that vision. By contrast, translating that vision into short-term goals (by week, month or quarter) keeps team members motivated day-to-day and help your team visualize the long-term goal more easily. Don’t forget to link goals to a clear, documented process, so that team members not only understand what they’re working toward, but have the systems, resources and direction needed to get there.

Manage Your Team Effectively

The best creative project management practices will keep your team on schedule without hindering their creative process. Having open communication with your creative team, being flexible with schedules and striking a balance between short-term and long-term goals are key practices for managing creative professionals.

For more tips on how to improve your creative leadership, check out our free resource, The Creative Leader’s Toolkit.

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