Creative ManagementBeing a manager, in any sense of the word, can be tough, especially depending on the industry in which you are employed.

Attaining Balance In Creative Management

Being a manager, in any sense of the word, can be tough, especially depending on the industry in which you are employed. Being a creative manager is a very tough position to handle, as those under your direction are creative people. Being the leader of a creative staff takes balance, as you will be managing both creative and non-creative individuals. Production companies, broadcasters, and film distribution are the areas in which these types of managers are needed. Of course, the level of difficulty associated with this type of management depends largely on the size of the company itself. The creative staff- those who come up with ideas and need their artistic freedom in order to do so- cannot be dealt with the same as those who are more on the business end of things,  people who operate within a defined structure, such as the people who work in the finance department.

Balancing the Control Factor

One of the primary responsibilities of a manager is to exercise control. Perhaps this is true with employees who are not on the creative end of the process. However, those whose basic job description is to come up with creative ideas which will in turn help make a success out of a company, need a different kind of structure. While it must be understood across the board that there are deadlines to meet and everyone should know when those deadlines are, it has to be done in such a way so as not to suffocate the creative minds that are working for you. In other words, you’re there to let them know what the deadline is and pretty much back off after that.

You now have to make sure that they have the room in which to work and are in a place where their creativity can grow to its fullest potential. You are there to provide for their needs, to nourish their ideas, and to shield them from the other side of the job. This is tough in a lot of ways because of our dual nature as human beings; part of us lives to be free and creative while the other part is prone to structure and routine. This isn’t all there is to managing what are known as “creatives,” however.

Dividing the Creatives

Although a group of people under your management may be classified as the creative people in your organization, they are not all the same and should not be treated as such. Generally speaking, there is at least one safe way to split your view of the creative staff; one group may be termed the “innovators” and the other the “adaptors.”  While both groups are creative in their own right, they also have distinct differences. Also, while both types, if put together, may clash with one another, they also have the ability to cooperate with one another.

Characteristics of Adaptors

An individual classified as an adaptor prefers to work within the boundaries of clear definitions and limitations It is possible to somewhat adjust the  boundaries, but not to a radical degree. Adaptors tend to be more disciplined and reliable; they will likely offer creative solutions to problems while staying within the defined parameters, and are more likely to work together with other group members. In other words, they are not likely to rock the boat; they are creative but are also conforming types who prefer to go with proven, accepted strategies and formulas. They work best in a structured environment and take few risks. Their creativity can be influenced by outside sources. For example, if an adaptor’s idea is challenged by the majority of the others within their group, the adaptor will usually defer to their experience and seek a solution that is more accepted by the group.

Many business types prefer to work with adaptors, as they are easier to manage, provide a low-risk dynamic to the company’s goals, are far more likely to meet deadlines, and are much more successful at keeping the peace within their respective groups.

Characteristics of Innovators

The innovators may be viewed as seekers of the new; that is, they enoy developing new ideas and processes. Innovators usually do not benefit from a structured environment and are easily bored, especially if their assigned task is viewed as being routine or mundane. In a group setting, they can appear to be brash and possibly arrogant. They are, in most ways, unpredictable and unreliable, choosing to bring unconventional approaches and solutions to just about any situation.

An innovator tends to view with disdain the tested methods and procedures, along with the ideas that have been proven to work. They are radical thinkers who like to shake things up and may seem to be disruptive when working as a member of a group. If their ideas are challenged or shot down entirely, they opt to resist the rejection rather than deferring to the rest of the group. Despite what you may see as negative the negative qualities associated with innovators, they are quite necessary to have in your employ, especially in this business.

While there may be formulas that have been known to work in the past and may still currently be viable, they will not last forever. Innovators provide the inspiration necessary to promote change and forge ahead in previously unconsidered directions. While there may be a risk of failure associated with these behaviors, there is also the potential for great success. Without innovators to motivate and encourage the other employees, a company risks becoming obsolete. Innovators constantly feel the need to think outside the box, wishing to pioneer the next great idea.

Separate or Together?

When you have both adaptors and innovators under your direction, you may need to consider whether it will be best to keep them in separate or mixed groups. Each option has its own set of pros and cons. If you mix the two groups, productivity may suffer and tensions may run high. On the other hand, mixing can also bring about much-needed change and a fresh perspective on things, creating an avenue of thought that would not have been considered otherwise. Sometimes separation is best, putting all of the innovators on one side and the adaptors on the other. The adaptors continue on with the status quo, keeping things running smoothly. Meanwhile, the innovators  will come up with new ideas, helping to prevent the organization from becoming stale and potentially left behind by the competition.

Ultimately, you are the one who will decide where and how to place these individuals. It may be optimal to try both mixing and separation in order to discover what will work best for the overall success of the company. As the guardian of your creative staff, one very important thing to remember is that you must protect them from external influences. You are the one who deals with the pressure, deflecting it from your staff. If your staff is allowed to feel pressured from outside influences, it can have a negative effect on their ability to perform their job, to create. While there must be some type of structure, and deadlines have to be met, your creative staff will operate best on a need-to-know basis.

When they are free to do their job without having to worry about stress from the outside, they will do their best work and produce their best ideas. Another thing to remember when delegating assignments is to make your staff somewhat comfortable with what they are doing. In other words, have them engage in work that captures their interest. Whenever possible, mixing the staff in their creative types tends to work better.

Although you are their supervisor, do not exude your authority unless it becomes absolutely necessary. While you are ultimately responsible for a project’s completion, allow your staff to meet the deadline. Arguably, your most crucial responsibility is to support your team and to keep them away from the administrative side of thing. Guide your team in a manner that allows for frequent communication and the growth of ideas. All of this can be quite critical and may very well mean the difference between success and failure for you and your team.