7 Tips To Building a Successful Creative Team - Filestage Blog (2022)

[vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text][blockquote text=”“Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley” show_quote_icon=”yes”][vc_column_text]Growing a three person marketing agency into a multi-million dollar, 26 employee agency was single handedly the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

Startup growth is a test of endurance, character, and sheer will power, and it can beat down the strongest people who try it.

In 2013, I naively dove head first into the startup life when I was hired as the third employee at a digital marketing company called Geek Powered Studios. Over the next 5 years I helped the owner grow the agency to 26 employees, landing a spot on the coveted Fast50 List, a prestigious whos-who that features the country’s fastest growing companies.

Over those years, I learned how to build companies by doing. My strategy was to learn as much as possible through business books, to try everything, to fail repeatedly, and to start all over again.

Later, by comparing my startup war stories with dozens of other entrepreneurs, I realized that every startup basically grows the exact same way. Some companies grow more quickly than others, but along the way they all follow the same predictable stages of startup growth.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Contents

The Stages of Company Growth & When to Hire

The first two stages are arguably the most fun, and they look a lot like what people imagine owning a business should look like (You’re your own boss! That must be so nice!). Stage one is a leap of faith — in this stage you’ve decided to take the plunge into business ownership and turn your vision into a one-person company. Stage one can be nerve-racking, but the excitement of entrepreneurship is usually enough to keep going.

If you make it past stage one, you’re in for a treat with stage two. This is your first expansion stage. Here, you’ll get your first office, hire a few core employees, and make the company official. This is the stage the marketing agency was in when I joined the company.

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Stage two can be absolutely thrilling — the future will look bright for your company as you get a first taste of financial and professional growth. But then as you progress, the cracks will inevitably start to form. As your business continues to grow, the success that made stage two so much fun will begin to pile up and become a burden. As you grow you’ll realize the company has become too big to just wing it anymore. Now you need systems, processes, and expertise to keep the wheels from falling off.

At this point you’ve entered stage three, the most defining phase in every early-stage company. It’s here you need to decide whether the stresses of growth are “worth it”, or if you’d rather just go back to being a casual micro-company with limited structure. Author and business pro Les McKeown has aptly referred to this stage the “whitewater”stage, because it will either spin you around and send you back to where you came from, or chew you up and spit you out the other side.

7 Tips To Building a Successful Creative Team - Filestage Blog (1)

At the agency I worked for, we didn’t even think twice about how to tackle the whitewater stage — we decided we wanted to keep growing no matter what, and in doing so I learned a lot about building out creative teams.

This list is comprised of seven things I wish I would have known when I set out to grow a marketing company. I hope my experiences can help you avoid some of the common mistakes I made throughout the process, and give you some ideas on how to build out your own team of creative employees.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

1. Hire Slow

There’s a reason this is first on my list, and why you’ll also see it on every piece of hiring advice you’ll ever read. Hiring slow is the key to sustainable growth.

The entrepreneurial part of your brain will tell you to go with your gut, and take the first candidate you interview because you want to move on to the next important thing on the schedule. This will always backfire.

The damage a bad hire will do to your growth and your company culture is unimaginable. Take your time in vetting candidates and be thorough in your reference checks. The few hours you put in here can save you months of stress later.

For design hires, it’s extra important to vet the candidates submitted materials. It’s not uncommon for designers to exaggerate, or downright lie with their resumes and portfolios. Sometimes this is intentional, but most times in an effort to appear more experienced than they really are.

I once had a young man tell me he had designed advertising campaigns for Gatorade. When I dug in a bit deeper I learned the “advertising campaign” was actually just a made-up campaign he had imagined and created; he never actually worked with Gatorade at all. This type of deception or misrepresentation is a big red flag.

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Additionally, when hiring make sure to ask lots of questions about the candidate’s design “skills”. A designer who lists “proficient at HTML” on their resume may be able to code web pages from scratch, or they may have just worked on their Dad’s WordPress website a few times. You won’t know until you ask.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

2. Use Tests

I suggest you actually go one step further than due diligence in vetting new creative candidates and have each finalist for a position do a work exercise.

Depending on your state laws and your opinions of HR best practice, you can pay the candidate for their time on these projects, or you can ask them to do it unpaid as part of an interview process. I always pay candidates for these exercises because I think it’s the right way to treat creatives, a group of well-meaning people who often get taken advantage of for their talents.

For designers,you can ask them to design something based on your specific instructions to see how they follow direction and how their design aesthetic fits with what you are looking for.

With content writers you can have candidates write copy for a specific website or page, to see how well their work matches the tone of writing you’d expect.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

3. Use a Skills Matrix

Developing a skills matrix is an essential exercise to ensure your creative team is versatile enough to handle any project. A skills matrix helps you to identify skill gaps that need to be filled in the next hiring wave.

Along the Y axis, list all of the skills you could ever need in a creative team: HTML, CSS, content writing, UX, video editing etc.

7 Tips To Building a Successful Creative Team - Filestage Blog (2)

Then in the X axis, list all of your current employees’ names. Put an “X” in all of the categories that the employee has proficiency.

Any rows without an “X” should be required skills for your next hire. In the example above, you can see the skills matrix for a well rounded creative team, but nobody on staff has experience with UX or Illustration.

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This will help reduce redundancy on in your staff and make sure you have as strong a team as possible. A skills matrix should be in the project management tool stack for every creative/marketing team and will save time when resourcing projects since it shows, at-a-glance, who can best handle a new task.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

4. Experience, Not Certifications

These days there are certifications for just about any skill under the sun.

In fact, certifications are starting to cause more headaches than good, especially in the coding field. Because of an explosion in online coding bootcamps, it is conceivable for a candidate to have dozens of coding certifications, even though the candidate has never stepped foot in a working office.

Some certifications do hold substantially more weight than others in terms of tangible value to a creative team leader. However, real-world application of creative skills cannot be understated, regardless of how well certified an individual may be.

Working in the creative world is about learning by doing. Theory, languages, and trends come and go, but application of skills requires competency. Compiling a long list of certifications with impressive acronyms makes for an attractive resume, but doesn’t necessarily translate into an ability for the individual to get the work done when it’s needed the most. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

5. Look at Soft Skills

In a fast-paced creative team environment, there’s a singular certainty: change.

Adapting to change and maintaining quality of work requires strong soft skills. A creative can have all of the hard skills they need to do the job, but if they aren’t flexible, aren’t coachable, don’t take direction, or have a wishy-washy sense of confidence, they will drag down even the best of teams.

When evaluating a potential team member it’s essential to see how they would react to change, accept feedback, think creatively when needed, and communicate with internal and external stakeholders when the going gets tough. Many of these soft skills are inherent and can separate a good creative from a great creative.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

6. Pay the right people the right amount

This can be one of the hardest things to do when you’re a cash-strapped entrepreneur living on a scrappy salary yourself.

Your first instinct will be to hire the fresh-out-of-college candidate who only costs $30,000 per year. This hire could make sense in later stages of your growth once your company has all of its structures and systems built, but in early growth you should probably leap for senior hires with experience and work maturity.

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These hires will cost you more money now, but will exponentially increase your chances of success down the line. As your business continues to grow you’ll need to build a senior leadership team to help run the company, and the easiest and cheapest way is to bring on employees who already know how to lead.

Studies show Millennials hop around from employer-to-employer more than ever. While some companies have succeeded by exclusively hiring fresh employees for less and training them up, I’ve never seen it work out myself.

Nine times out of 10, I’d rather pay more money for more experienced candidates, not only because they’ll require less resources for training, but because they can bring skill sets to the table they’ve picked up at other companies.

Once you’ve made it past the oh-so-important whitewater phase of growth you’ll have plenty of opportunities to hire entry level staff. At an early stage I just wouldn’t bet my business on it in an effort to save a little money.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

7. Support New Hires

It can be tempting to celebrate a new addition to your team and forget the work has just begun. When a candidate accepts your job offer, it’s important to immediately lay the groundwork to help them feel welcome, and to set them up for success.

There are a few simple steps to make a new hire’s first day more comfortable:

  1. Have a defined strategy in place to welcome the new hire to the team
  2. Get to know him or her as an individual, not just your employee
  3. Make sure they have all the tools needed to get the job done, but also to feel comfortable in the new environment.

When it comes to training, it’s important to have a realistic expectation of how much of your time it will take to help get the hire up to speed.

Have a set number of weeks or hours in mind it’ll take to ramp them up? Double that. Now you’re in the ballpark of the time commitment it’ll require to ensure your new teammate can do their job effectively and efficiently and become a valuable addition to your team.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

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FAQs

What makes a successful creative team? ›

The right leadership

The way creative teams are managed has a tremendous impact on the success of the team itself. The best leaders are humble and approachable, but also decisive and able to inspire others to create while keeping the team focused on milestones and goals.

How do you create a creative team? ›

How to Build a Creative Team
  1. Define the scope of your creative work.
  2. Consider your resources.
  3. Assess the skills of your creative team.
  4. Evaluate team dynamics.
  5. Decide how to hire.
  6. Assess technical and communication skills of prospective hires.
  7. Stay flexible and scalable.
  8. Nurture a creative environment.

What are the goals of a creative team? ›

What is a creative team? The main goal of a creative team is to design and execute campaigns that encourage a target audience to buy a company's products or services. The team is also responsible for creating a consistent brand image for the company through its look, voice, and messaging.

How do you get the best out of creative team? ›

Better understand how to recruit creative people. Define key team roles. Use appropriate tools to manage poor performance. Make time to develop the individuals within your team.

What is the most important factor in building a successful team? ›

The most important factor in team success is safety. If team members do not feel safe, team success will suffer.

How can you make a team productive and creative? ›

Here are 10 ways to empower your teams to be more productive:
  1. Give your team members ownership. ...
  2. Ensure proper communication. ...
  3. Identify your team's strengths and weaknesses. ...
  4. Team building exercises. ...
  5. Use a project management tool. ...
  6. Reward your employees. ...
  7. Give them room to work. ...
  8. Praise a job well done.

How do I create a creative team to start myself? ›

Regularly expose yourself to new ideas—through reading, learning opportunities, or just talking to people you don't normally talk to—and encourage your team to do the same. You'll be amazed at all the insights and opportunities you unlock.

What means creative team? ›

What Is a Creative Team? First off, a definition: a creative team is a team of individuals supporting a company or organization with their creative skills. Creative teams are typically filled with writers, artists, designers, and others who can look at a problem and develop creative content to help solve it.

How do you manage creative processes? ›

Manage your Creative Team
  1. Design your team well. ...
  2. Choose your team members well. ...
  3. Match people with the correct tasks. ...
  4. Give your team members autonomy. ...
  5. Use the power of motivation. ...
  6. Know what you have. ...
  7. Allot the resources carefully. ...
  8. Use time properly.
23 Sept 2019

What is the cheat for creative? ›

Use the following commands in order to activate Creative Mode. cheat GiveCreativeMode or GCM to activate it for yourself. cheat GiveCreativeModeToTarget or GCMT to toggle Creative Mode for the player you are targeting.

What are the 7 steps in order of the creative process? ›

7 Stages of the Creative Process – Dreaming and Doing
  • Intention. Your idea is born. ...
  • Incubation. This is the time you begin to put thoughts together. ...
  • Investigation. Here is where you do research. ...
  • Composition. This is the DO part where you begin to compose. ...
  • Compose – Get it Out. ...
  • Clarification. ...
  • Changes. ...
  • Completion.
14 Apr 2021

What are the seven habits of highly creative people? ›

7 Habits of Highly Creative People
  • Left brain vs. Right brain. ...
  • #1. Open to new experiences. ...
  • #2. Learn to “play” ...
  • #3. Don't rely on “solitary genius” ...
  • #4. Have a process. ...
  • #5. Formulate problems well. ...
  • #6. Be aware of surroundings. ...
  • #7. Generate a lot of ideas.
25 Jul 2016

What are the 8 steps of the creative process? ›

8 creative process stages to mature ideas
  • Identify the problem, challenge or goal. ...
  • Engage in research. ...
  • Brainstorm solutions. ...
  • Prepare to cope with creative blockages. ...
  • Reflect consistently. ...
  • Seek intellectual insights. ...
  • Design the insights into the solution. ...
  • Finalise and test the solution.
29 Apr 2022

What are the 7 principles of team working? ›

There are seven communication principles today's recyclers can adopt to foster teamwork—simple steps that, when implemented, encourage everyone on the team to thrive.
  • #1: Know Who You Are. ...
  • #2: Embrace Your Brand. ...
  • #3: Act Like an Owner. ...
  • #4: Listening is Communication. ...
  • #5: Assume the Best. ...
  • #6: Everyone Needs a Coach. ...
  • #7: Trust.

What are 3 things that make a team effective? ›

Through trust, communication and role identification, I have seen teams succeed and flourish in the midst of business and chaos. When these three areas are strong, success flows naturally and effectively.

How can I improve my team? ›

22 innovative ways to improve teamwork in the workplace
  1. Involve leaders in corporate communication. ...
  2. Avoid cringe-worthy team-building exercises. ...
  3. Create teamwork recognition programs. ...
  4. Clarify ownership early on. ...
  5. Make communication a two-way Street. ...
  6. Know who does what. ...
  7. Have a clear organizational purpose. ...
  8. Set clear team goals.
14 Oct 2020

What are the 4 types of team you can create? ›

Teams can be divided into four main groups: project teams, self-managed teams, virtual teams, and operational teams. What type of team you have depends on its purpose, location, and organizational structure. Each type of team comes with its unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

What are examples of creative work? ›

A creative work is a manifestation of creative effort including fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, sketching, performance art), dance, writing (literature), filmmaking, and composition.

What activities promote creativity? ›

Here are ten tried and tested activities for charging up your creativity:
  • Take A Class. Learning something new is like giving your brain a vitamin boost. ...
  • Keep a Journal. ...
  • Use Your Commute. ...
  • Challenge Your Body. ...
  • Meditate. ...
  • Go to sleep. ...
  • Meet Someone New. ...
  • Organise Your Space.
13 Sept 2019

What are the three elements of creative performance? ›

We have creative performance that can be achieved by three components: creativity-relevant skills, domain-relevant skills, and task motivation.

Why is process important in creativity? ›

When you have a creative process – and understand how it works – you have a better chance of increasing creative flow in your work. You are also more likely to spot whether an idea is good, helpful, and valuable.

How do you quickly fill a chest in creative? ›

Whilst filling the dispensers I discovered that if I hold Shift and then double click a stack of items the game will transfer every single one of that item into the container.

How do you make a survival world creative? ›

Minecraft Java How To Change Game Mode (Survival to Creative ...

How do you fill a full chest in creative mode? ›

Middle clicking grabs a full stack of the item. Middle click dragging drops down full stacks. To load/unload all of an item, first pick up any item, then while holding it hover over one if the item stacks you want to load/unload all of and shift double click.

What are the 5 key factors for a team to be successful? ›

5 keys to building a successful team
  • Psychological Safety. Psychological safety is a fundamental component of a successful team. ...
  • Dependability. The second key component of a successful team is dependability. ...
  • Clarity & Structure. ...
  • Meaning & Purpose. ...
  • Impact.

What are the 3 main qualities of creative people? ›

These are among the five main traits of a creative person according to Munir and you might be surprised that you have all the five:
  • They are risk takers.
  • They have the dare to fail attitude.
  • They are willing to be different.
  • They are impulsive, fickle and change their mind quite often.
9 Apr 2017

What are 3 characteristics of a successful team? ›

Here are a few qualities that a successful team possesses.
  • 1) They communicate well with each other. ...
  • 2) They focus on goals and results. ...
  • 3) Everyone contributes their fair share. ...
  • 4) They offer each other support. ...
  • 5) Team members are diverse. ...
  • 6) Good leadership. ...
  • 7) They're organized. ...
  • 8) They have fun.

What are the top 8 qualities of a successful team? ›

Here are 8 characteristics that you need to cultivate in your organization to build an effective team at the workplace.
  • Open Communication Allows for all Employees to Have a Voice. ...
  • An Effective Trusts its Members. ...
  • A Team That Cares about Each Other Works Better. ...
  • Last Few Words.
14 Jan 2020

What 3 factors improve teamwork and success? ›

The key elements to successful teamwork are trust, communication and effective leadership; a focus on common goals with a collective responsibility for success (or failure). However, without trust and communication the team will have difficulty functioning effectively.

What are 5 characteristics of a good team? ›

These five characteristics are key components of team success.
  • Trust. The biggest factor separating high performing teams from average teams is trust. ...
  • Clear communication. Second only to trust, communication plays a huge part in the success of a team. ...
  • Defined roles and responsibilities. ...
  • Engaged leadership. ...
  • Collective goals.
31 Jan 2021

What are the six 6 key characteristics of an effective team? ›

6 Characteristics of a successful team
  • They have clear goals and plans. ...
  • They have strong leadership. ...
  • Members fulfill their own tasks and also help one another. ...
  • Members communicate openly with the team. ...
  • Members resolve conflict constructively. ...
  • Members feel they directly contribute to the company's success.
28 Jul 2021

What are the 7 characteristics of creative thinking? ›

7 Qualities of Creative Thinkers
  • Ask Questions. The first quality is that creative thinkers are intensely curious. ...
  • Practice Zero Based Thinking. ...
  • Change Your Mind. ...
  • Admit When You Are Wrong. ...
  • Continue to Learn. ...
  • Creative Thinkers Are Goal Oriented. ...
  • Eliminate Your Ego. ...
  • Creative Thinking Generates New Ideas.

What are the 4 principles of creativity? ›

The four principles focus on the importance of 1) phrasing problems as questions, 2) generating many ideas, 3) evaluating ideas positively, and 4) taking personal responsibility for creativity.

What are six common characteristics of creative people? ›

12 common characteristics of creative people
  • Curious. Creative people enjoy learning new things, so their free time may include reading books or watching videos about topics they find interesting. ...
  • Playful. ...
  • Open-minded. ...
  • Flexible. ...
  • Sensitive. ...
  • Independent. ...
  • Risk-taking. ...
  • Intuitive.

What are the four main elements of a successful team? ›

To establish an effective team – there are four essential elements: Goals, Roles, Interpersonal Relationships and Processes.

What is an example of a successful team? ›

The Black Mambas. The Black Mambas are a perfect example of a team working together successfully to achieve a shared goal.

What are the 10 characteristics of high performing teams? ›

  • Clear and aligned purpose. ...
  • Clear roles and responsibilities. ...
  • Build trust through relationships. ...
  • Communicate frequently and effectively. ...
  • Collaborate often. ...
  • Appreciate & encourage diverse thinking. ...
  • Manage conflict constructively. ...
  • Learn and adapt.

What are the top 10 qualities to build a successful work team? ›

Top 10 Characteristics of Effective Teamwork
  • Setting a Clear Direction. ...
  • Open and Honest Communication. ...
  • Support for Risk Taking and Change. ...
  • Defined Roles. ...
  • Mutual Accountability. ...
  • Open Communication. ...
  • A Common Goal. ...
  • A Melting Pot of Differing Opinions.
5 Jul 2022

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