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How to Work With Creatives

How to Work With Creatives

“We love what you’ve done, but we feel that it just needs a few minor tweaks…”

If you have ever uttered that phrase, you’ve undoubtedly contributed to one of the more frustrating aspects of working in a creative environment. Creatives—a term coined by the marketing industry to describe creative employees and contractors such as graphic designers, copywriters, and the like—are skilled workers who are often hired for projects that businesses can’t handle internally. These creatives take care of branding, web design, promotional materials, web copy, and so much more, but it’s important to know how to work with them in a manner that will alleviate stress and frustration all around.

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Should you find yourself in a position where you’ll be working with a creative, please take note of the following suggestions. I can assure you that your professional relationship will be far less tetchy if you adhere to the dos and don’ts outlined below.

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DO:

  • Sit down with them and explain every aspect of what you’re thinking about. Filling out a creative brief that covers all the different aspects of the project at hand is a great way to lay everything out on paper so you can refer back to it at regular intervals. You’ll be able to establish the scope of the project and all the assets required for it, and in turn you’ll find out how much time each aspect will take. This will allow you to set a solid critical path, and stick to your budget.
  • Show them examples of what you like, and what you don’t like. One of the worst things you can ever do is say something akin to: “I’ll know what I don’t like when I see it.” You (hopefully) wouldn’t go into a restaurant, order everything on the menu just to taste it, and then only pay for the one or two items that you liked, would you? The same thing goes for creative work: you are not entitled to receive thirty different versions to pick and choose from when you’ll only end up paying for one.
  • Familiarize yourself with terminology so you know how to describe what is is you’re looking for. You’ll be able to receive the business card of your dreams if you let the designer know you’d like letterpress printing, rather than just saying that you like cards that look “smooshed in”, and expecting them to know what the hell you’re talking about.
  • Realize that white space is a good thing, and that your logo doesn’t have to fill the whole bloody space. Have you ever owned a pair of Levi’s jeans? If you have, you probably remember that the label was a little patch on the back of the belt area—it wasn’t stretched across your rear end and down your leg. Less is often more, and subtlety = elegance.

DON’T:

  • Let a committee make decisions. If you’re the CEO or project manager, establish right from the beginning that you will have the final say as to whether any adjustments are needed. When you allow a committee to give their opinion about a design or written piece, you’ll have a dozen different opinions to balance, and you’ll end up second-guessing your own decisions. Chances are that the people you’ll be asking will have varying levels of experience and familiarity with the subject, but they won’t agree on anything. Let one person deal with the creative and make all necessary decisions.
  • Say: “This should only take you a few minutes to do.” You likely have absolutely no concept of how long that assignment would take, as you hired this creative person because you couldn’t do this task yourself. What you think may only take a few minutes may in fact require several hours’ worth of work, so it’s best to ask how long it’ll take and then determine whether you have enough money in the budget to cover that work.
  • Tell anyone to “make it POP more”, because that means absolutely nothing and you’ll be loathed just for having said something that douchey. If you don’t know the correct terminology for what you’re trying to express, then find images or examples that illustrate what it is you’re looking for as mentioned in the “DO” section above.
  • Demand that changes should be made if the subject you’re dealing with is something you’re unfamiliar with: instead, trust in the fact that they know what they’re doing. Chances are that you wouldn’t second-guess your dentist with regard to the tools used on your teeth, and you wouldn’t hover over your mechanic’s shoulder, suggesting that they switch around certain plugs and such in your car’s engine, right? Please show that same courtesy to your creative team. They’re no less skilled than any other professional, and if you insist upon peppering your copy with exclamation marks, or adding lens flares to your website just because you think they’re “neat”, you’ll end up looking like a jackass and your business will suffer as a result.
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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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