According to the 2016 Agile Marketing Survey, “Developing creative, innovative campaigns that stand out in the market is the number one challenge for marketers today. Although this makes creative professionals highly sought after, it adds a sense of urgency and underscores the need for effective collaboration across all the departments that work with creatives.”
Wrike have surveyed creative teams of all sizes and asked about their biggest challenges, struggles with collaboration, and how they manage their work. Take a look at some of their key findings:
- 82% of creatives spend at least 25% of their time managing projects vs. doing creative work
- Only 48% of creatives always complete projects on time
- Only 26% of respondents have a standardised and consistent review/approval process
Top 3 collaboration challenges:
- Too much feedback from too many people
- Incoming requests make it difficult to prioritise
- Not provided with enough information to begin work
Now that we know the ‘enemy’, what can be done about these challenges?
Since admin work is taking so much of our time, this area must not be overlooked. Brainstorming the internal processes and ways of optimising them as a team will ensure that all team members are on the same page. Less time spent searching for an email or a document means more time spent adding value to the project. Investing in more user-friendly and intuitive software will spare hassle and stress.
Lack of consistency in review process
Alas, this problem doesn’t only affect creative industries but just about every other business too, in lesser or greater degree. Just the same as discussing the core processes within the team will benefit business in the long run, setting up coherent review system will noticeably increase the team productivity. Make sure to assign the task to one dedicated person with overlooking the process and coordinate the comments and suggestions.
Completing the project on time under the pressure and without clear guidance or coordination is a challenging task. The optimisation of time and tasks is therefore imperative as is setting the milestones on the way. By tasking each team member with smaller (daily) tasks you ensure that the progress becomes measurable. Not only it will give you a clear picture of how far – or close – from the completion you are but completing chunks of work on a daily basis will also bring some spring back to everyone’s steps.
There can be nothing worse than spending days and days working on something without the sense of accomplishment, not even of a smallest task. The burned down staff won’t simply be able to deliver the project.
Accounting in for breaks and free time. It is widely accepted that the person only effectively four hours a day and all other time is occupied by either unnecessary tasks or simply procrastination. And while it is every employer’s dream to minimise this time to zero, it might backfire and backfire badly. Our mind is not designed to keep focused 100% of the active time. It all depends on the context of course but it is said that our mind drifts away on average 7 times per minute and the 45 minutes is just about maximum time we can keep our mind focused on one subject or task. With stressed and restless mind you can confidently say that focusing will be even harder. Encouraging ‘switching off’ in between tasks is perhaps one of the best things one can do to improve the productivity and creativity. Making this time more interesting and mentally nourishing is not least important – just think of the endless interactive areas in famous Google offices.
We are all familiar with the word ‘appraisal’. As horrible as it sounds, experts claim, it is the guarantor of success within the company. While it might work well in some industries – probably – the creative industries are leading the journey away from the concept of following the pre-filled form to motivate someone. After all, both employee and the team leader should be comfortable with the appraisal and that is hardly the case.
If the role of the appraisal is to reflect on the performance and to assist an employee in achieving their best potential, it makes every sense to me that the appraisals should be re-invented, especially in the smaller creative hubs. Call it an ‘informal chat with the unwritten agenda’ if you wish and don’t think that once a year ‘appraisal’ is enough. Look out for the lack of interest among the staff and address the issues as and when they arise.
Addressing main collaboration challenges – Feedback
Feedback is an important part of learning and R&D process. But too much un-coordinated feedback can overwhelm and confuse just about anyone. Make sure to think through the collecting of a feedback. Along with coordination of review processes, t the clear and coordinated feedback will not only minimise the confusion but will help to streamline the production / delivery.
Think of a brief, then think again.
If you try to think of one single issue that will most certainly negatively affect the quality of work and the delivery time is an unclear brief. Here it is useful to neglect the assumption that if something is ‘crystal clear to you, it will be the case for everyone. As a manager, make sure you know what information and in which format will be required by the team members to commence and successfully complete the task. Encourage exploring questions – the clearer the brief, the better will be the results.