Does your marketing team seem to be losing its mojo?
When the emphasis in marketing is on technology and hitting the right metrics, the part of the job that makes it effective often gets lost in the shuffle.
We’re talking about creativity.
It’s one of those “soft” skills that get a lot of lip service, but there’s not much talk about what causes people to lose it or solutions at hand when your team can’t get into the zone.
Your company may be harboring a horde of creativity killers without even realizing that there’s a problem bubbling in the background. By the time it manifests as apathy and procrastination, you’ve lost valuable time and resources.
What are the biggest enemies of creativity in the workplace, and how can you turn the situation around?
Lack of Autonomy
When a member of your team has to constantly check in to make sure they have permission to do something or to double-check on a policy, it wastes their time, yours, and the client’s.
A restrictive atmosphere where employees don’t have sufficient autonomy to make decisions promotes an environment that’s antithetical to creativity.
Creating a workplace that gives staff some independence:
- allows them to take ownership of their activity and outcomes
- promotes loyalty
- prevents staff turnover
- supports job satisfaction
- provides workers with a better life/work balance
It isn’t necessary to leave everyone to do their own thing, which can lead to chaos, disorganization, and lack of unity.
Staff autonomy varies from situation to situation, and it depends on being confident that you have a talented team that is well-trained and able to take ownership of their decisions.
It calls for a more linear management style rather than a top-down authoritarian model. However, it also improves work performance when the team members feel that they have the authority needed to conduct their job and the confidence of their supervisor to do it right.
For example, some companies are adopting a results-only work environment (ROWE) that gives staff the leeway to approach tasks in a more independent fashion as long as the expected results and deadlines are met.
They can work where they want and however they want. The only requirement is that they complete the job on time and maintain the expected quality.
With this type of work environment, managers also have the independence to manage and motivate their team as they see fit. This, in turn, motivates them to be better leaders.
However, it relies on a management style that’s compatible with this level of freedom, or the plan will backfire. It also relies on knowing your staff and what motivates them.
Some workers need stricter guidelines and more direction, while others can work with little supervision. Create a culture of trust and openness and be willing to learn from your mistakes.
Decentralized Project Management
One of the biggest boons to efficiency and creativity is the emergence of remote and flexible work environments. However, this also creates logistical problems when your team is dispersed throughout several departments, systems, or even time zones.
This is one of the many ways in which technology can solve problems rather than creating new ones.
Counteract decentralization by:
- Setting policies that mandate unified systems and apps
- Using cloud-based platforms to support remote collaboration
- Opening up your team to diverse opinions and people
Sometimes, the pressure of being able to get the job done can sap energy and creativity. For example, malfunctioning equipment and software glitches often mean time delays and mental stress that affect production and outcomes.
Having a system in place that can detect and manage technical issues while improving performance would go a long way toward reducing incidences of tech-related delays.
In addition to making sure that delays are reduced, technostress can be neutralized by:
- Using downtime productively by brainstorming, reflecting, or planning
- Conducting an inventory of which technologies are eating your time and why
- Prioritizing when to use tech and when manual implementation is more productive
- Making a mental note of how the stress is affecting you physically
- Making your devices themselves less stressful by changing ringtones and alerts to something more subtle and soothing than a series of beeps and bells
Lack of Motivation
One of the biggest causes of disengagement and lack of motivation is a feeling that your efforts don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Creating a corporate culture that’s open and inclusive improves engagement and makes staff members feel that they have a stake in the game.
There should be clear communication about your company’s mission and shared goals that are identifiable and understandable to all.
When all members of a team know why they’re there, what’s expected of them, and what’s at stake, they’re better able to get on the same page when it comes to devising solutions.
This can be achieved through:
- Comprehensive, consistent onboarding procedures
- Regular formal team meetings and frequent informal sessions
- Having an open-door policy that supports staff input
- Addressing any issues early and head on
- Letting go of control and leaving your team the lead
- Setting realistic deadlines rather than using pressure tactics
- Eliminating restrictive language or using phrases like “by the book”
Creativity and productivity are not mutually exclusive. When creative teams receive the autonomy and bandwidth they need to address problems, and technology that frees their time to put it to good use, it greatly improves the outcome.
According to Robert Fabricant of Frog Designs, creativity is the “end result of many forms of intelligence coming together, and intelligence born out of collaboration and out of networks”.
Removing creative blocks from the workplace allows your team to become fully immersed in an atmosphere that supports creative thinking and problem-solving. That is where great and memorable marketing campaigns are born and nurtured.
How does your company support their creative teams? Tell us about your challenges and success stories.
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.