Three Tips to Managing Creative People

Whether you’re a brand new manager or seasoned one, there are several key factors to keep creative folks happily engaged in their work and of course, productive. And if you’re not a manager, no worries there  — the tips below can give you ideas as to how you may want to be managed by your boss.

1. Spoil them and let them fail. As pointed out on a Harvard Business Review blog post, one effective way to manage creative folks involves encouragement to think outside the box. 

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writes, “Innovation comes from uncertainty, risk, and experimentation — if you know it will work, it isn’t creative. Creative people are the natural experimenters, so let them try and test and play. Of course, there are costs associated with experimentation — but these are lower than the cost of NOT innovating.”

2.  Only involve them in meaningful work. In other words, don’t waste team members’ time. They can see the big picture and assuming they’re a solid performer, they have the ability to run with a project and meet deadlines like the best of ’em. Realizing that creative types are often fueled by innovation, the opposite also holds true. If you assign a project that seems mundane, you may get lackluster results.

3. Don’t pressure them. Okay, this one may be a little hard to take if there are tight deadlines to meet but Chamorro-Premuzic points out, “Creativity is usually enhanced by giving people more freedom and flexibility at work….Don’t constrain your creative employees; don’t force them to follow processes or structures. Let them work remotely and outside normal hours; don’t ask where they are, what they are doing or how they do it.”