Most people tend to think that running a creative team mostly involves throwing money at them until they shut up and work. Everybody likes money but creativity rarely does. The past eight years at Rantages, I was blessed with the best young talents in the country and our success had nothing to do with money [since it's voluntary work], but the people who contributed to the site. Here're a few things I've learned over the years through trial and error.
Creative professionals want innovation, not fortunes
Although proper remuneration goes a long way and creatives will complain the most about this but it's only applicable for those who haven't made it yet. Nurturing creativity isn't about payment, it's entirely about leadership and the environment. People who are creative are also the people who dream big, money is only the by-product of the big dream. Your employees might become disenchanted if they think that their work has no end goal and there is no space for innovation. Which brings us to…
Respect and love go a long way
Every artist, regardless of their medium, has a dream. Some struggle with figuring it out and some already know. As a team leader, if you treat their dreams and goals as eccentric fancies, morale will plummet like skilled labour in ad agencies. Instead, take an active role in their own personal growth, at the very least, show that you care. That goes a long way. Maybe one day, they'll return to you even better than before like Paul Pogba did at Manchester United. I remember working under Tanvir Hossain of Sun Communications during Dhaka International Folk Fest 2017. The man ran one of the biggest events without raising his voice even once and he always treated us with love. The end result? Most creatives who work under him are forever indebted to his love and guidance. That's something money can't buy.
Human output is limited
As a consultant, I make it clear how much output and hours to expect from me. In a lot of cases, fresh talent and even some experienced ones tend to overestimate their output to impress their superiors. As a superior, you also need to understand that if you whip your team into increased productivity for an extended period of time, they will get fatigued and burn out. What's the consequence? Best case scenario, their output drops. Worst case scenario, their output stays the same but quality deteriorates. Once this happens, it becomes incredibly difficult to revitalise a demoralised employee.
Let them breathe
Even a bookshelf stocked with relevant books can help your employees learn new things and unwind. A Playstation at the workplace can be an expensive investment but to a creative professional, it can make a huge difference. Once they feel comfortable at their workplace, they'll think twice before switching jobs. You'll actually be saving money in the long run by avoiding expensive raises to maintain a good team. If they play more than they work, first figure out whether it's affecting their work or not. If not, don't bother. If it is, have a talk to them before taking drastic actions.
Lead from the front
If you constantly sit back and order people around, eventually you'll be seen as a dictator and your workers will simply move away and compartmentalise. Every once in awhile, take part in work that's way below your pay scale and show the kids how it's done. Also, whenever an unpalatable piece of work comes up that no one wants, you should take it and show that you're not afraid of work. The way you think about your employees reflect in their work and attitude.
Avoid the Nice Guy syndrome
Reading this article, you might think that this is a plea for leaders to be nicer to their employees. The answer is yes and no. When you're constantly letting your team walk over you, they stop taking you seriously. You can be nice and at the same time, be firm. Rules are rules and they should be made with the specific team in mind. Accounts and Comms don't work the same way and if you expect them to, don't get angry when you have numbers in your design and design in your numbers. Adhere to it like law and when the time comes to bend the rules, make sure that the entire team is aware of the price you're having to pay to bend the rules. Consistently bending the rules make you look like a loser but doing it once in a blue moon makes you a hero. Respect should be maintained above everything and if your team isn't respecting you, find out why because each situation is different.
Leadership isn't a degree, it's a process
One final bit I would like to stress upon is that you can't be a leader after reading this article or attending events organised by Bangladesh Young Youth Leaders' Motivational Forum. It's a personal journey that has to line up with your own vision. These things only give you food for thought. Trial and error is the best method because you're dealing with human beings, not robots.
Rumman R Kalam is the founder of Rantages and uses his 8 years of content experience as a consultant to help brands develop their long-term vision and bring stability to their marketing activities. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.