Second Helpings with 2013 HOW Design Live Conference Speaker Jackie Schaffer
By Ed Roberts
What project is fueling your passion at the moment?
I’m currently managing change with a team implementing new processes we helped them design. The biggest change for the team is the introduction of project managers—the team leaders are learning how to allow the project managers to support them versus taking everything on themselves. It’s been really refreshing to see the group adopt the new processes and allow the team leaders to focus on the quality of their products.
Are the processes for managing smaller in-house teams different from those in managing larger in-house teams?
The role of an in-house manager certainly changes as the team grows. Managers of smaller teams—generally out of necessity—are functional experts of some kind, literally writing, editing or designing as part of their day-to-day responsibilities.
Leaders of mid-sized teams are still likely to wear more than one hat. They also need to incorporate a more analytical approach to their team management style. Those same leaders aren’t likely to be writing, editing or designing but are still involved in the creative output from a more directional standpoint.
Managers of larger teams (50+) tend to be more focused on the overall operation of the team and the department. These managers understand the creative process as well as the needs of their creative team, but their role becomes more of an “Advocate.” As you can see, the transition from small, mid-sized and large team leadership takes one further away from the day-to-day core services.
What advice would you give an in-house manger that believes they are more of an order taker than a strategic partner?
First and probably foremost, find a way to make your team’s services invaluable. In managing my former in-house team we changed our clients’ perspective by actively managing the company’s largest project. In the past, we use to sit back and react to projects. But I changed that way of thinking. My team actively participated in the management of company projects, we sometimes invited ourselves to key project kick-off meetings with upper management. The worse upper management could say was “no” to us.
What are the biggest challenges you see in the development and management of in-house teams?
- Not investing in technology
- Looking for a print designer who also does interactive design and development—and does it all well :/
- Holding on to underperforming employees due to a lack of performance documentation
It seems like the reputation of corporate in-house agencies has risen significantly over the years. Thoughts?
It’s an interesting time to be in-house. I believe the key to continuing to raise our reputation within our organizations is to move past cost savings as the primary benefit of staffing an in-house team and instead focus on the strategic value we bring to our organizations.
Thanks Jackie! See you in San Francisco!
Like what you read here? InHOWse Designer Blog contributor Ed Roberts will be giving a live, webinar presentation on how to supercharge your in-house team on July 24 – sign up today!
Ed Roberts is a Creative Director who has assembled a brilliant in-house team of strategic, creative superheroes. Together they recently won 16 ADDY’s and three Telly awards for print, Web and broadcast work developed for ElectriCities of NC, an organization that manages billions of dollars in electric generation assets and serves over 500,000 consumers. Follow Ed (@InHouseObs) on Twitter for more inspiration and insight.