Anyone who has been in a creative team knows that while the work is often satisfying, it can get stressful at times. The team could be facing short deadlines, the client may have requested adjustments to proposals, or the task at hand may be more challenging than the team anticipated. The stress is even greater when you are the creative director and answerable on behalf of your members. How do you navigate stressful situations and keep the team’s focus on the expected output? What soft skills do you need in such scenarios?
Taking a Stand for the Creative Team
As the team’s creative director, you will be called upon to speak on behalf of the senior management team. It will be crucial to take a stand on behalf of the team. When unrealistic deadlines or goals are handed down to the team, you may need to push back and request more time and resources if necessary.
Often, there is the temptation to cave into pressure and throw your team under the bus. The risk is that your team will find this out and develop a negative attitude. However, when they know you have their back, they are likely to be more confident in presenting new ideas, and the team camaraderie will be great.
Find Creative Ways to Ease Tension
There are times when your creative team will need to relieve tension. When working on a lengthy and stressful project, it may be advisable to ask your team to take some time off together. For instance, you could take them out for dinner or a team-building activity. Such moves are important because a stressful work environment tends to strain personal relationships in the team.
In other scenarios, you may find it necessary to ease tensions between two or more team members. Do not let situations escalate to more than what you consider a healthy disagreement between creatives. You could ask them to take a break or have a discussion with them to resolve the disagreement.
When faced with stressful situations, your team may need to adjust the way it works. While having a strategy for getting things done is important, there is always the risk of being too fixated and missing new targets.
When handling tough projects, it is important to zoom out a little, consider new information that may have come to light, and adjust accordingly. The team may need to ask whether the goals have changed. As the creative director, you may also need to switch up how team members are normally paired. It may result in fresher ideas.
Foster Healthy Creative Team Culture
Team culture is an important determinant of productivity. Often, the way members communicate can lead to a great improvement in quality. For instance, if a colleague realizes a mistake happening, they should not let it slide because someone else is responsible. There should an established norm of helping colleagues produce high-quality work.
Communication culture also touches on how colleagues respond when faced with tasks they are not fully sufficient for. Should they struggle with it, ask for help, or ask someone else to do it? The creative director is responsible for setting the tone on such issues.
Affirming Your Team
Creatives thrive on feedback and critique of their work. Naturally, they already do a lot of self-criticisms. However, in stressful situations, feedback lets them know they are on the right track despite the work being a little more challenging than usual.
When correcting mistakes, be careful not to dismiss their efforts. Point out your creative team’s positives while offering suggestions on what they ought to have done differently.