Keep Your In-House Creative Team Motivated and Happy
Being a part of an in-house creative department means that your team is able to commit to focusing on building up one brand (or a small handful of brands) long term. With this level of focus, in-house creatives are able to hone a much more intimate understanding of their client and are consequently becoming a thriving component of the creative world. But there’s an issue.
Without the high client turnover that agency-based creatives have, there’s more opportunity for boredom and burnout with repetitive projects. Tasks like creating 18 differently sized versions of the same graphic are simply the bread and butter for many in-house teams, and it’s hard to spark creativity on those days.
As a leader of a creative in-house team, there are ways you can continue to inspire and motivate your team, and ensure their in-house experience is a happy one.
Communicate Context With Clarity
If you’re the creative head of a smaller department, you may not have someone in an account or project management role. That leaves you to communicate strategies to the rest of your department. When you’re able to communicate how their work fits within a larger creative strategy for your brand, you’ll have a team that is more inspired by their work.
Regular project check-ins are hard to fit into a busy schedule, but meeting with your team helps build project alignment, particularly if they don’t have direct contact with the stakeholders of your organization. Consider adopting an Agile working environment—or take the parts of Agile and Scrum methodologies that work for your team, like a daily morning meeting. Create a department Slack channel for easy interoffice communication that cuts back on e-mail chains.
Know When to Push Back
Because in-house creative teams can be bogged down with mundane projects, it’s important to know when to push back. Work collaboratively with other department heads to involve your department where you see fit. Positioning your team as a strategic creative partner to other departments is beneficial for everyone.
If your team is already working at full capacity, don’t be intimidated about asking for external resources. Ensure your team is accurately tracking their time on projects, and you’ll have hard evidence that you don’t have the resources for a new creative project. Having a stable of freelancers that you trust can be crucial during busy seasons.
Delegate Work Equally
When your team is being inundated with mind-numbing projects, you may find there’s one eager person (or one person too quiet to say “no”) who willingly takes on the grunt work. It can be tempting to let these team-players slog through 50-page slide decks while the squeaky wheels monopolize the more creative projects. However, these situations lead to premature burnout and turnover where you’ll risk losing a great employee.
There’s a difference when you know your team’s strengths and are assigning accordingly. It makes sense to have your best video editor tackling the 23rd revision a video project, rather than assigning it to someone just to play fair. Sometimes, however, you’ll have to play Russian Roulette when it comes to passing on an email template.
Get Them Out of the Office
If your company has a budget for courses, webinars, and conferences, don’t be afraid to use it. Taking courses not only improves your team’s practical skills but also improves morale, sparks creativity and makes your creatives feel like their career growth is truly valuable to the company.
Attending conferences or participating in national marketing, advertising, and design associations is a great way to turn your in-house creatives into brand advocates. RGD (Association of Registered Graphic Designers) hosts 2 annual DesignThinkers events in Vancouver and Toronto that unite creatives from both in-house and agency spheres. Cella Consulting, a consulting agency specialized in guiding in-house creative teams, offers seminars and boot-camps that can be customized to your department’s unique goals.
Encourage Them Creatively
A common lament for in-house creative directors is that, as much as they would like to personally mentor their team, they simply don’t have the time. Speak to other professionals in your field. You may be running on fumes some days, but does a creative contractor you’ve enlisted for external help have time or interest in taking some of your team for a coffee? You’ll be surprised by how many people will say yes, or be flattered that you asked.
What do your staff do when they’re out of the office? If you don’t know, ask. Most creative professionals will have creative hobbies on the side, whether it’s freelance web design, photography or crochet. Encouraging them to find a creative outlet outside of the office can help on weeks when the workload gets stressful or repetitive.
Whether you’re a seasoned creative director or are recently taking the lead of your in-house creative department, there are new ways to motivate and inspire your team.
Function Point works closely with in-house creative teams within brands like Whole Foods and Manulife, making project management easier with accurate reporting, easy time tracking and client collaboration.
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