Movies and TV would have us believe the creative process only applies to “true artists” — you know, like actors who refuse to break character while filming and sculptors who abstain from eating until their masterpieces are complete. But every type of creative has a creative process. And understanding and nurturing your team members’ creative processes can lead to better work, higher productivity and happier people. Here are five things to keep in mind about the creative process to foster creativity within your team.
1. Everyone is creative.
Yep, we said it. Although we like to fancy ourselves “creative people,” the truth is everyone is creative in their own right. It’s just that creativity manifests differently in each person. Some people have the creative look. The colorful wardrobe, cool glasses and hats — oh so many hats. Others are tougher to peg because they don’t wear their creativity on their sleeves. But as humans, we all have a desire, a need even, to create. Not everyone can draw or write well, but creativity comes in all forms. It comes in the form of event planning, budgeting, orating, number-crunching and so much more.
So when you’re trying to find a creative solution to a marketing problem, don’t forget to seek out the thoughts and ideas of people you might normally not think of. There are creative problem-solvers all around us. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge for someone to start thinking creatively. You could be the one who cultivates creativity in your team and beyond.
2. There is no singular creative process.
Considering creativity comes in many forms, it should be no surprise that everyone has their own creative process, too. Some people need independent time to think, research and develop ideas. Others work best when they can feed off of the ideas of a group. Some people think more quickly, and others need time for ideas to brew before lightning strikes. Be sure to consider these personality types before your next brainstorm.
At Active Voice Communications, our team thrives when we have time to think and brainstorm as individuals and then come together to collaborate. (We’ve been great at brainstorming virtually since long before COVID.) Of course, our clients often have their own processes, and we have lots of experience adapting to their styles, too. That flexibility is part of who we are. But remember, it may not be the same way for individuals on your team. So always keep in mind the different personalities and needs of those on your team so that as a unit, you can create great work together.
3. Sometimes people need inspiration.
When you work in corporate marketing — writing the same kinds of content and using similar messaging day in and day out — you can fall into a creative rut. And people in ruts aren’t doing themselves or their organizations any good. That’s why it’s important to recognize the need for inspiration.
Such inspiration can be found almost anywhere, but again, different people have different needs. Sometimes inspiration comes from reading. Sometimes it comes from going to the beach or taking a scenic drive. Or simply spending a little time outdoors. (We’re full of ideas when it comes to boosting creativity.) Encouraging your team to take time to be inspired — and even creating opportunities for them to do so — will help your team members create their best work.
4. The creative process can be a grind.
As creatives, our favorite moments are when we come up with creative ideas and the team gets excited about the video we’re going to make, the presentation we’ll give or the data we’re going to dig up. But when the actual work begins — the research, the writing, the design and development — it’s, well, work. And it can be a grind, especially when teams have too many requests and too few people to handle them.
It’s not easy to crank out a 2,000-word pillar page. It can be very taxing to build a lengthy pitch deck or conduct your fifth source interview in a day. Be sure to remind your team what they’re doing is of value. Creative team leaders would be wise to find encouraging words for those team members who are developing content every day. Remember, a “thank you” and a “good job” go a long way. After all, it’s what most of us creatives live for.
5. Check egos at the door.
The best work is truly collaborative. Some of the most effective articles I’ve written had a wonderful assigning editor on the front end and a fabulous line editor on the back end, not to mention a talented designer to bring it all to life. The most successful websites I’ve worked on included skilled designers, editors, writers, videographers, developers and SEO experts. Having projects go well requires that we as a team understand and value the contributions of each team member and give them the time and space they need to do what they do best.
It also requires us to check our egos at the door. One of my favorite designers happens to be a pretty darn good writer. Projects she and I have worked on together have been successful because I welcome her input on copy, and she welcomes mine on design. When a client throws us a curveball, she and I can hop on the phone and develop a solution together. True collaborations require creative partners who value one another’s input and can communicate effectively throughout all stages of a project. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who wrote the winning headline or found the perfect image, only that it all worked out.
Lead by example on your team by collaborating and asking for opinions often and by celebrating wins, together.
Creating beautiful work
The creative process is a beautiful thing, though it also can be chaotic and messy. The keys to getting the best work from your team are to understand their processes, nurture their creativity and collaborate incessantly. When that happens, you can come together to create beautiful work.