Motivating Creatives

Letting your creative team know that you appreciate their work is essential to maintaining a happy and satisfied workforce. However, it’s not always easy to motivate your staff.

Perhaps that’s why advertising and marketing executives recently polled by The Creative Group said their biggest management challenge is motivating employees. Even the most driven individuals need to be encouraged and rewarded. However, there’s no-one-size-fits-all formula for keeping staff engaged; the best supervisors are attuned to each employee’s work style, which enables them to tailor motivational strategies to the individual.

Following are four common creative personality types and ideas for keeping them inspired and at the top of their game:

Steady Sam consistently delivers results but doesn’t show a lot of ambition. Sam thrives on routine and rarely takes on assignments that fall outside his typical job duties. If you ask Sam, for example, to come up with a new tagline for a client in just two hours, he looks like a cat in the middle of a dog kennel. Because this person prefers stability over change, your motivational strategy should include giving him plenty of notice about deadlines and helping him prioritize tasks when new projects arise. Sam avoids the spotlight at all cost, so share compliments in person rather than before a crowd. A handwritten, thoughtful note about his accomplishments on a particular project provides just the sort of recognition that makes this individual thrive.

Assertive Ashley, unlike Steady Sam, is motivated by competition. This person values status and will work hard for promotions. If you have a high-profile project with a seemingly impossible deadline, Ashley is your go-to woman. Ashley works in a win/lose world, and competitive terms like “outsmart,” “never been done before” and “surpass” will inspire action. Always let Ashley know how to get to the next rung of the career ladder, and provide her with a continuous stream of challenging projects. If you want to praise Ashley, do so publicly: Good options include an announcement at a team meeting, sending a group e-mail or placing a story in the company newsletter. Ashley likes to know everyone else knows about her accomplishments.

Personable Pat is warm, gregarious and friendly. Cultivating positive professional relationships and seeking approval from coworkers are priorities with this individual. Because work is a social occasion for Pat, you can capitalize on his friendly disposition by letting Pat organize team-building activities. Pat is also helpful on projects that include drama-prone colleagues who don’t get along: He can diffuse tension between individuals, keeping work on track. Because Pat aims to please, offer specific, meaningful praise, such as, “The concept you submitted for the Jetset account was outstanding and helped to define the rest of our pitch.” Pat’s happy to be recognized either publicly or privately, and especially enjoys receiving kudos from clients.

Artistic Alex leans toward perfectionism. Alex tends to value interesting assignments over prestigious job titles and compensation. Avoid giving Alex long-term projects that are low on creativity and high on drudgery: She is not likely to excel. Instead, provide Alex with jobs that require innovation and an exceptional eye for detail. Make sure you give her time to fine-tune assignments by padding the production schedule: Because Alex is a perfectionist, she is happiest when able to tinker with a piece. For this reason, Alex may not be your go-to person for last-minute projects. Alex typically enjoys all forms of praise, but entering her work in industry competitions is one of the highest because it validates the creativity and effort she puts into each piece.

If one universal work “truth” exists, it’s this: Everyone needs to feel validated. It’s up to you, as a supervisor, to match assignments and the style of praise you deliver to the individuals on your team. By focusing on personal motivations, you’ll inspire your staff to perform well and increase the likelihood that they’ll remain with the company long term.

The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals on a project basis with a variety of firms.