Creative Mutiny – Managing Creatives

Mutiny, an open rebellion against authority. What has that got to do with creativity?

Well I’d probably have thought the same before starting out on my path working in a creative agency. Having managed non creative teams in the past, the shift into a creative agency was a bit of a jump. Well the day job was easy, but what I had to learn quick and fast was the difference between managing creatives and the less creative types. It’s a whole different ball game.

I mean how often will someone turn to their boss and say ‘I’m not doing that, i’m simply not doing it, I don’t agree with it so I’m not doing it’ ……Welcome to a whole new world of managing creatives, a sometimes difficult and challenging role and if you don’t embrace it head on you’re on a path to mediocre work and an unmotivated workforce.

Four years on and I’d like to think i’ve nailed it. So here are 3 top tips on making the most of your creative team, managing them well, and inspiring them yet guiding them enough to make them feel fulfilled. And most of all allowing them to do what they do best – be creative.


1. Allow risk – I’ve seen it time and time again, creatives have a fantastic idea, they get a buzz, they go a bit wild, they get sucked into an idea, they present it and all that excited passion for the work is flattened within seconds, ‘Can we tone it down’, ‘People won’t get it’, ‘It’s too risky’ … We’ve all heard it. If i’ve learnt one thing it’s that by stifling these creative ideas you end up with a team that is afraid to take risk. If you want to have a successful creative team, allow risk, allow them to take their ideas to the next level. I mean after all that’s what they are trained to do. If they fail then they will learn, but they will learn in a way that doesn’t quash motivation. I mean I’m not saying allow things to get out of hand, but try and remember that sometimes risk works.


2. Give them freedom – There is nothing worse than giving your creative team a brief and a deadline and them seeing you clock watch. At first for me working in a creative environment seemed alien, we’d chat, we’d have what seemed like meaningless conversations, outsiders would look in and think ‘Oh they are having a right laugh, do they actually do any work?’. Well let me tell you, these times of freedom usually bring the best creative work i’ve ever seen. Structure isn’t a creatives strong point and nor are processes, let them work however they are most comfortable, if they need a day working from home to get their head in the game let them. Believe me you’ll be rewarded with ten times more creativity than you’d get than when you micro manage a creative team. They simply don’t work well that way.


3. Listen to your creatives – You’d be surprised how many times i’ve heard people dismiss creatives and their opinions and not really understand how badly that can demotivate them. Creatives are often some of the most intelligent people you will meet, we often forget that, their easy going characters, their full of energy attitude can often make you forget that behind that lies some amazing ideas. Listen to them and involve them at every level, they think differently to the majority of us and often that out of the box mentality can lend itself to some incredible business strategies. Don’t listen and you’ll end up with a workforce that feels they get pushed to the side because they get to do all the ‘fun’ stuff. Create an environment where everyone feels their voice gets heard!


I could go on and on about the experiences I’ve had leading a creative team. If you get it right you’ll end up with the most rewarding job imaginable. Get it wrong and your heading for disaster. Remember creative people should be allowed to do what they do best, allow them to be creative with no boundaries, it works at Awkward Melon. Our ethos is work hard, have fun and create something amazing.

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