How to Effectively Manage a Team of Creative Professionals

Creativity is considered as an inherent quality by some and an acquired skill by others. Without going into intricacies of debate on the issue, it can be confidently said that creativity is an inherent quality that each and every individual living under the sky is gifted with at birth. It is the environment in which the individuals exist, that exerts its influence in shaping up the particular outlet through which creativity in an individual is vented out. It is environmental experience and education that lays its influence on the individual in acquiring one or many skills, depending on the talent or ability of the individual to adopt the set of skills.

Online business solely thrives on the creative ability of individuals. This creative ability manifests itself in a diverse set of economic activities, where each day you find a new idea springing up in the World Wide Web, which requires a new set of skill to get it materialized. New ideas and new skills obviously require new sets of management skills to better control the ever evolving work flow in the office environment. It is a fact that online business does not require any office space, but simultaneously it is also true that it is only an organizational set up with it’s own business policies that can define the business prospects of its own entity as well of the others. Therefore an organization is a prerequisite for carrying out any kind of trading.

Within the organizational setup, it is very important to introduce an efficient management system, that would be creative in it’s functioning as well as encourage and acknowledge creativity within the system. Team Management is a very complicated affair if looked into with all the great theories encrypted within the vast scope of the subject. However, if studied in the light of the daily practices that we carry out straight from the heart, then the managerial ability of each individual needs to be appreciated. No matter how much qualified managers may be, if they do not succeed in improving their team’s performance and happiness in the work environment, they would be deemed as failures.

Management when considered as a subject can be segregated into three broad categories namely- Project Management, Product Management and Team Management. Of these three categories, Team Management is the most important category as it is directly related to the success of the other two categories. Unless an organization has a strongly motivated team that is happy, with a strong focus on it’s objectives, it’s performance will not improve.

It has been observed that creative people (people who are guided by their heart or emotions, reflected in their actions) often are unable to strike a balance between their creative self and business self, that gives rise to fear and the feeling of insecurity. These people are often great writers, designers or developers who excel in their own field, and are not graduates from management schools.

The creative industries usually have Managers coming up from the staffs within the company, who ultimately get directed towards running their own teams because of dissatisfactions that remain unvented. Their experience propels them to act as individuals and thrive independently. These individuals start working for themselves, and even before they are aware, they become Managing Directors of their own companies. However, these entrepreneurs miss out a great amount of experience of running a team. Though their own individual small teams have some unique benefits, it also has some serious setbacks.

They can take instant decisions pertaining to project management, for which they would have otherwise had to wait for the decisions of the company management.
They can maintain more personal interaction with their team mates as long as the team is small. However when the team tends to grow, such entrepreneurs fail to meet the growing demands of the organization in terms of efficient team management.
These individuals usually tend to have a closed team environment, which often tends to have a very narrow outlook towards their profession, and life as a whole.
These individuals are focused towards creating great work, and not a fantastic team without which the first will be harder to achieve.
Therefore, it is of uttermost importance that teams in the creative industry have a good management in order to have great performance. A creative job-whether a piece of writing, or a movie, or designing or music has to pass through several stages of processing before hitting the market as a nice and excellent product. To get this done effectively, the team carrying out the different bits and pieces of the whole job requires an efficient management to complete the work within a stipulated budget of time and money, rendering it a high quality.
This can be achieved when the team manager is able to efficiently manage time and the project, at the same time develop a sense of collective responsibility within the team.
It is the responsibility of the team manager to unify the individual goals of the team members with the objectives of the Company. Therefore, it is essential that team managers of companies working in the creative industry possess background skills relevant to their particular work field, so that they can identify the problems that their team is facing or is likely to face in the near future. It is only then that they can offer proper solutions to them.

Often issues might crop up when a proper managerial activity is carried out pertaining to the respective challenge. Hence team managers need to make a graceful shift without being too involved in each and every decision that is being made. Continuous opinionating on the tasks done by the team members could result in counter- productivity. The team manager should provide proper guidance and support when asked for by the team member. It is only when a team is internally truly motivated, that its creative outcome will be successful.

Before striving to manage the team efficiently, a team manager should get to know himself or herself first. Without knowing his / her own self, it is not possible for a team manager to manage his or her team well. To identify which areas of the team he can improve he /she needs to know his team well, and to know his team thoroughly, he needs to know himself well. Here are a few tips and suggestions for the creative managers to look after their team of creative professionals better, and thus increase the quality and quantity of productivity better. The methods denote the different types of leadership practices that a team manager may apply to its team to carry out the managerial task. Each of the choice denotes a particular trait of character in the team leader.

Telling – Following this method, from the top till down, there is funneling up of information, and funneling down of decisions in an authoritative way. This method frequently leads to disagreement amongst the team members regarding the decisions passed out to them, or they simply do what they are being asked to do and nothing more. This process leads to lack of involvement of the team members within the team.
Telling and Selling – In this method, the team leader tries to sell the benefits of carrying out an instruction to the team members and telling or urging them to do as told. This might lead to creation of compliance collaboration in the team, where members of the team do what they are being asked to because of benefits of one or the other kind, rather than a personal motivation of achieving an objective.
Involving – In this method, the team manager makes the team feel that it is a part of it, and gets them involved and directed towards their work. Implementation of this method increases the involvement and enthusiasm of the team concerned, while the managerial task of decision making remains with the manager. Sharing of thoughts and ideas within the team often leads to generation of new ideas.
Co- Creating – This method makes it possible to bring out the best potential in the new team members. According to this method, the objectives are set by the team manager, and it is the team that decides the path of achievement of the set goals. Here the team is involved in the decision making process actively, and makes suggestions, which is often adhered to by the decision making body of the organization.
A team manager that practices the first method for carrying out managerial tasks tends to possess an inclination towards autocratic management. Their attitude of “Do as you are told” tends to destroy the initiative of the team members to do or suggest something new pertaining to the growth of the company. Thus the team silently carries out the instruction passed down, and loses all passion, enthusiasm and zeal to achieve the task set, and relents to apathy.
A manager that practices the second method of management leads to building of a team that does not care about the well being of the organization with passion, but is driven only by self interest as the primary motivational factor. This practice leads to an uninterested team that is selfish, unsacrifycing and non-committed towards their job.

Team managers that follow the third method are definitely more successful than the above two. In such cases, the teams are no doubt better motivated as they are involved in the decision making process being a part of organizational management. The team manager is more democratic in his practices, and can lead to better achievement of goals. However, such kinds of managers need to be much prudent while making their decisions, as inability to judge the feasibility of applying an idea might turn out to be disastrous.

The managers following the fourth kind of management method do give a lot of freedom to their team members in executing the set objectives, which more than often prove to be successful. However, setting up of unrealistic goals often leads the team to use unscrupulous measures in order to achieve their targets. Inability to fulfill the objectives set by the team leader / manager leads to a feeling of insecurity amongst the team members and builds up stress within them. This directly hampers the productivity of the affected members of the team.

An efficient manager deftly skilled in the art of team management strikes a unique balance between all the styles mentioned above. He / She applies management strategies combining all four to suit the requirement of the situation and the level of maturity of the concerned team. A team management following any single style of management of course will need some time for transition, but in times of an emergency in business, the most effective is the “Tell” approach.

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