Helping you get your creative career on track< Back
From increasing employee retention to simply enjoying your day-to-day work life, there are many reasons why you may want to brush up on your managing skills. More often than not, good management leads to inspired teams who in turn, produce great results. But, before we share our cluster of knowledge with you, we need to point out one thing; think launching a rocket into space is hard? Managing people might be even harder! Ok, well, launching a rocket is probably pretty tough, but management is truly one of the hardest professions. Unlike robots, humans are very unpredictable. While some of us are naturally gifted with strong social skills, it can take years for others to master the art of dealing with people and a variety of personalities. Whether you’re a seasoned or wannabe manager, bookmark this check-list to keep your mind clear at all times and ultimately be seen as an outstanding manager by your team (and yourself!).
When working in the marketing industry, you’ll deal with a full spectrum of creative people from developers to videographers. Even though you’re the one assembling the pieces of the puzzle, it’s very likely that coding, programming, designing or copywriting is not your forte – and that’s ok, because it’s not your job! However, making an effort to understand your colleagues’ struggles will go a very long way. Listening to your team will not only help you get projects done better and more efficiently, but will also leave your team feeling accomplished and well collaborated. Understanding how to work with different personalities will help create that special bond every individual and team needs to succeed, because after all, we’re not robots.
Most team issues come from misunderstandings and/or the lack of communication. As a manager, you’ve got to make sure your communication is crystal clear and that your ego is as little as a mustard seed. You’re not here to be loved or hated, but to make sure projects get done well, and on time. Lead by example, implement good communication practices into team members, and admit when you’re wrong! After time and practice, you’ll see that others may even take after you (that’s the goal). Keep the mentality that nothing is beneath you, and that helping out shows strength and not weakness.
As the project manager, you should have a clear idea of how deliverables should turn out for a specific project. You can share this vision with your team by creating comprehensive briefs, mood boards and sourcing examples, but at the end of the day, nobody can read your mind. Creatives need room and flexibility to thrive, so make sure to encourage input from your team leaving strict black and white guidelines behind (if you can avoid them). Of course, never bring your standards down to adjust to your team and their potential want to put in less effort, but rather show them their input is valuable. Having a bit of flexibility for something like a business card design that is not exactly as you had imagined it, shows that you respect your teams’ ideas and abilities – and respect is the base for all successful communication.
Have to tell a colleague their work didn’t meet expectations? Relax – you won’t have to be a jerk to get the message across! First things first, consider that everybody has feelings but that in the end its not personal, its business (sooner or later, everyone figures this out). Before highlighting your negative feedback, find some positive points – if you don’t see any, dig deeper! Second, move the conversation over to “what needs to be improved”. Always sandwich your comments between layers of positive comments and appreciation, and use words like “we” rather than “you” to highlight that the project is a team effort. Use sentences like, “Thanks for getting this done before the deadline, since we have some more time we should really explore a version with colours that better match the client’s branding,” or, “I really like how you did x and y, maybe we could take things a step further and try this and that.” The way you present your feedback can make or break a team relationship, spend time thinking through your word choices before laying it all out.
Writer and lecturer, Dale Canergie, once said, “Be lavish in your praise and in your appreciation.” Although this was said over a century ago, his words haven’t aged. If you want to learn all there is to know about social skills, Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People is a must read. As a project manager, you should seize any opportunity to tell your team they’re doing a great job – only if you mean it of course! Insincerity can be smelt from a mile away, and positive reinforcement will be your best ally when it comes to training or helping improve a team member’s skills. Whenever you stumble upon a great resource, be it a website, app, design, etc., share it with the others – who knows, they might need it in the future!
As a project manager, it’s good for your team to know that they can ask you anything, anytime. But, if you’re always available, when will you have time to focus on your work? Being interrupted 24/7 is one of the unfortunate parts of the gig, but it doesn’t mean nothing can be done about it. When you need time to review your team’s work or get in a creative headspace for a project, let your team know you’re retreating to your bubble for an hour or so and will touch base when you’re done. If you’re working in an open space, we recommend using the meeting room to facilitate temporary isolation.
Can you think of any other skills that make for a great project manager in the creative industry? Share your input with us in the comment section below. If you’re in the middle of job hunting, you’ll definitely want to check out this blogpost highlighting the best tips for refreshing your LinkedIn profile.