A sensitive topic that’s a huge struggle in our industry is how to give employees direct and honest creative feedback. Creativity is so subjective that this is sometimes very difficult, especially if the one giving the feedback and the one doing the work aren’t on the same page. Setting overall expectations is great, but how you break down those expectations and how often you check in on those expectations involves more process management than people management.

I believe many creative managers try to develop another’s skills by managing the person and not the process. This is what they get wrong most of the time, which leads to a lot of frustration and high turnover rate. Instead, they should create a well-defined process for building the creative, including frequent check-ins to ensure team unity and less one-on-one management.

Below are five steps we use to make sure our team stays on track. Before, during and after each step is an informal review within the team and a more formal review with the client. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect going forward.

  1. Discovery: Review what the client did in the past to see what did and didn’t work
  2. Research: Search online, visit stores, etc. and do a creative brief to guide the team
  3. Concept: Start working on ideas – words/phrases, sketches and loose compositions
  4. Build: When the overall concepts are approved by the client, move on to building all of the necessary elements
  5. Production: Once the elements are approved by the client, prepare files for delivery

If agency owners, creative directors, art directors and traffic managers understand they need to check in with their creative teams at each of these steps, time spent managing will be reduced.

Do you have a certain process you follow?

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