an age marked by digital disruption, creativity plays a pivotal role in the success of a
business. Recent technology developments combined with the impending effects of
the Fourth Industrial Revolution require companies to be highly adaptable,
innovative, and adept at problem-solving under pressure—abilities that creative
employees are known for.
find success in the digital age, startup leaders must learn how to harness the
power of creative workers in order to create a company that functions
comfortably in a business climate characterized by change. Listed below are
four important tips that can help startup leaders manage creative employees to
achieve this kind of success.
1. Hire the right team
can’t harness the power of a strong creative team if you don’t have the right people
in the first place, and hiring for creativity poses greater challenges than
selecting employees based on more conventional skillsets. Creativity is an
elusive quality that’s hard to pin down, and determining how to screen for
creative ability can be difficult.
looking to bring creative talent on board should consider taking a
nontraditional approach to the interview process. Rather than deploying job
postings in the typical locations, begin by asking for references from your
existing creative employees. Workers who have already demonstrated the strength
of their creative abilities may be able to suggest people within their own
professional networks with the same type of skills. Leaders should also
consider looking outside of their own industries for new talent. While industry
practices can typically be learned, creative abilities usually cannot, and
advertising a position to creative people with a different professional
perspective can bring in promising candidates.
the right candidates have been recruited, leaders must remember to ask
interview questions that reveal a prospect’s adaptability and openness to new
experiences. Scan resumes for diverse job sets or travel experiences, and ask
questions that require candidates to demonstrate their ability to
problem-solve. Take note if a candidate has a capacity for drawing connections
between two seemingly unrelated concepts—a large part of creativity is making
connections where others fail to see them.
2. Grant freedom and
the right people in place, it’s important for leaders to remember that the
creative worker tends to thrive in an environment where freedom and flexibility
are a standard part of the professional experience. From a managerial
standpoint, it can be difficult to relinquish the control that comes with
employees working the usual 9-to-5, but research shows that your most valuable
creative employees may benefit from working in a less structured environment.
creative employees as much flexibility as you feel comfortable with to get the
best results. To produce valuable ideas and do innovative work, your employees
need both time and space. A restrictive work structure for your creative
employees may lead to active disengagement and stress, limiting inspired output
and rendering these workers far less effective than they have the potential to
3. Give the right kind of
accomplishments that your startup achieves will be the result of teamwork. It
takes a wide range of skillsets and talents to drive companies forward, and the
recognition of hard work from leadership can have a significant impact on the
level of engagement that your employees feel. Used correctly, feedback can be a
useful tool for guiding creatives in the right direction. Used incorrectly, it
can stifle an employee’s ability to produce good work.
use feedback effectively, leaders must focus on giving responses on an
individual basis. General group praise doesn’t allow leaders to deliver the
kind of constructive criticism that helps creative employees understand the
frameworks within which they are expected to operate. Honest, individual
critiques that address the positives and negatives are usually much more
effective at bringing out the best in creative employees.
is also important for leaders to focus on critiquing the work, rather than the individual.
Creative employees tend to be highly invested in the work they put out, and may
be more likely to produce satisfactory results when leaders offer more
open-ended critiques. These workers likely won’t respond well to flat statements
like, “You’re doing this wrong. Do this instead.”
4. Encourage risk.
rely on creative employees to think outside the box. Oftentimes, this means
taking calculated risks that can lead to major, industry-changing payoffs. In
other instances, it simply leads to well-thought-out failures. It’s important
to keep in mind that innovation requires people to think in ways that go beyond
the standard parameters of your industry. If your leadership style does not
grant creative employees the freedom to make mistakes, it will be difficult for
these workers to feel confident suggesting the kinds of ideas that lead to
real, profitable change.
a startup leader, it is your responsibility to model what you consider to be
smart risk-taking behavior. Understand that the new business frontier has left
traditional business models behind, and define responsible risk-taking by your
own standards. Clarify your stance on the line between innovation and risk to
give your creative employees some guidance—then step back and let them work.