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Creative Differences (or, thoughts on how to manage creative teams even if you’ve zero creative experience)

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Creative Differences (or, thoughts on how to manage creative teams even if you’ve zero creative experience)

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With more than 11 years experience working as a creative, Hannah has been managed both by folks with creative backgrounds, and by those without; in addition to managing a creative team of more than 40 people herself.

As such, she comes with a wealth of firsthand experience - she's seen both the mistakes of others, and also made plenty of mistakes and missteps herself. Here she busts some management myths, highlights common misconceptions, and shares her own experiences of the unique challenges associated with managing Creative Teams.

This talk was originally given at The Business of Content, a virtual conference held on 26th August 2021.

With more than 11 years experience working as a creative, Hannah has been managed both by folks with creative backgrounds, and by those without; in addition to managing a creative team of more than 40 people herself.

As such, she comes with a wealth of firsthand experience - she's seen both the mistakes of others, and also made plenty of mistakes and missteps herself. Here she busts some management myths, highlights common misconceptions, and shares her own experiences of the unique challenges associated with managing Creative Teams.

This talk was originally given at The Business of Content, a virtual conference held on 26th August 2021.

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Creative Differences (or, thoughts on how to manage creative teams even if you’ve zero creative experience)

  1. 1. creative differences how to manage creative teams even if you’ve zero creative experience Hannah Smith Worderist.com
  2. 2. 2000-2008 Inhouse Marketer (offline) 2008-2010 Tech SEO + a little paid search 2010-2016 Part of the creative team at Distilled 2016-2019 Head of Creative at Verve 2019 Founded Worderist.com Offering creative consultancy, training, and one-on-one coaching to individuals, agencies and inhouse teams to help them create more effective content A brief history of me :)
  3. 3. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com At this point I feel like it’s worth clarifying the creative space which I most frequently play in
  4. 4. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com All content should be goal-driven: what you create depends on what you’re looking to achieve
  5. 5. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I specialised in creating content designed to generate coverage and links on high-authority websites
  6. 6. this was created for PartyCasino, we analysed forty years of box office data, to see which actors made the most profitable films
  7. 7. It generated linked coverage from over 120 sites
  8. 8. this was created for Lenstore, it’s the world’s first gigapixel time lapse panorama of London’s skyline
  9. 9. It generated linked coverage from over 150 sites
  10. 10. this was created for GoCompare, it’s a tribute to the modernist buildings we’ve lost to the wrecking ball
  11. 11. It generated linked coverage from over 200 sites
  12. 12. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Today, some people call this Digital PR (it’s been called lots of different things over the years)
  13. 13. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Linked coverage is the core KPI for the vast majority of my work
  14. 14. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com The KPIs for the content you create may well be different
  15. 15. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com That’s cool, I think that the stuff I’m sharing today will be applicable, regardless of the type of content you’re creating
  16. 16. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com In today’s session I’ll be sharing 3 lessons I’ve learned about managing creative teams
  17. 17. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Whilst I did have several years creative experience prior to becoming a manager, I’m aware that many managers of creative teams don’t...
  18. 18. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com As such, the lessons I’m sharing today will hopefully also be applicable regardless of whether or not you’ve previous experience of working within a creative team
  19. 19. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But first, a disclaimer...
  20. 20. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I made a lot of mistakes as a manager
  21. 21. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com The lessons I’m sharing today are ones I really wish I’d learned sooner
  22. 22. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com As such, I’m very aware that what I’m really dispensing here is advice
  23. 23. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com the trouble is, advice is a thorny topic
  24. 24. More on advice here: https://worderist.com/2019/06/26/theories-of-transference-and-advisory-warnings/
  25. 25. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com The advice I’m offering is autobiographical (it’s rooted in my experiences, not yours)
  26. 26. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com What I’m really doing here is giving advice to past-me (or at least that’s what I would be doing if only time travel were possible)
  27. 27. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com As such, any & all advice I’ll be dispensing comes with the following warning: this advice may not be for you
  28. 28. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com So I recommend that you sit with this advice for a while, & try to figure out whether or not it’s applicable to your specific situation
  29. 29. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com My Dad says: It’s a good idea to listen to advice, but it’s not always a good idea to follow it :)
  30. 30. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Ok, the background stuff & disclaimer stuff is done... let’s do this thing!
  31. 31. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Lesson I It’s useful to know where your judgement is good, & it’s important to know where it’s really NOT good
  32. 32. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Towards the end of 2017, someone asked me:
  33. 33. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com “How good are you at predicting whether or not a campaign will be successful?”
  34. 34. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com & I realised I didn’t have a great answer
  35. 35. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I thought I was good
  36. 36. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But I figured I ought to find out how good or otherwise I really was at predicting this stuff
  37. 37. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com So, at the beginning of 2018 I resolved to make a prediction about how each campaign would perform ahead of launch
  38. 38. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com How did I do this?
  39. 39. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com This stuff isn’t strictly binary, so I created a scale
  40. 40. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Scoring Band Number of Links A more than 100 B 50-99 C 20-49 D 10-19 E fewer than 10
  41. 41. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Using this scale, I began to make predictions about all of our campaigns ahead of launch
  42. 42. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com How did I do?
  43. 43. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com “She who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass” ~Edgar R. Fiedler, The Three Rs of Economic Forecastings: Irrational, Irrelevant, & Irreverent, 1977
  44. 44. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I correctly predicted the outcome of just 47% of campaigns
  45. 45. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Which means I am wrong more often than I am right
  46. 46. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com So I’m wrong a lot… but how wrong am I?
  47. 47. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Predictions which are out by: one scoring band = a bit wrong two or more scoring bands = very wrong
  48. 48. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com
  49. 49. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I wanted to figure out where my judgement was most impaired, so I started cutting the data in different ways to better understand where I was going wrong.
  50. 50. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Can I spot a “winner”? here I cut the data to look only at those campaigns which achieved either Band A (100+ links), or Band B (50-99 links)
  51. 51. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com My predictions are far more accurate here, but when I’m wrong, I’m very wrong...
  52. 52. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com
  53. 53. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Do I fall in love with my own ideas?
  54. 54. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com If the campaign is my idea how accurate are my predictions?
  55. 55. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I was surprised to discover I’m remarkably clear-headed when it comes to my own ideas
  56. 56. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com
  57. 57. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com If I “love” the idea, does it impact my predictions?
  58. 58. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I recognise this might be tricky to parse
  59. 59. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I made predictions based on how well I thought each campaign would perform
  60. 60. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com high prediction ≠ love
  61. 61. Let me give you an example: this piece revealed the most congested roads across the UK...
  62. 62. My prediction: Band A Results: 317 pieces of linked coverage
  63. 63. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com It’s a resonant topic in that pretty much everyone gets annoyed about being stuck in traffic
  64. 64. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com It has reasonable breadth of appeal because we can take this to both UK nationals and regionals
  65. 65. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I feel pretty confident because I’ve seen other similar studies gain coverage in the past
  66. 66. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com but do I love this idea? nope
  67. 67. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com high prediction ≠ love
  68. 68. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Back to the point: If I love the idea, does it impact my predictions?
  69. 69. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com YES IT REALLY REALLY DOES
  70. 70. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com
  71. 71. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I don’t fall in love with my own ideas, but I do fall in love with other peoples’
  72. 72. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com & the final piece of the puzzle, how accurate are my predictions if I don’t love the idea?
  73. 73. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com
  74. 74. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com What did I learn?
  75. 75. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com It is nice for me to know that my predictions are pretty accurate for my own ideas, and ideas I don’t love:
  76. 76. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com
  77. 77. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com It is really important for me to know that I’m pretty terrible at making accurate predictions if I love the idea
  78. 78. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com
  79. 79. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Knowing the circumstances where my judgement is likely to be impaired, is really powerful
  80. 80. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I now know I need to actively seek out and listen to other people’s views when I’m pitched an idea I love
  81. 81. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com because in these circumstance, their judgement may well be better than my own
  82. 82. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I really wish I’d done this exercise sooner
  83. 83. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com So it won’t surprise you to hear that I strongly recommend that you do this exercise yourself :)
  84. 84. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Regardless of whether you’ve 20 years, or 20 minutes worth of creative experience: start making predictions about the results of your own work now
  85. 85. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Scoring Band Number of Links A more than 100 B 50-99 C 20-49 D 10-19 E fewer than 10 Create appropriate scoring bands, using whatever the core KPI is for your content (links were our core KPI, but the KPI for your content may well be different)
  86. 86. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com actually record your predictions!
  87. 87. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com When I came to run the numbers of my own predictions I was shocked by some of bands I’d written down
  88. 88. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Your memory is unreliable
  89. 89. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com each time we remember something, we reconstruct the event
  90. 90. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com & we suppress memories that are painful or damaging to our self-esteem
  91. 91. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com So actually write down your predictions :)
  92. 92. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Give it a reasonable amount of time, so you’ve a decently-sized data set; then go back and do some analysis
  93. 93. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com You’ll likely find that your judgement is considerably worse than you thought it was
  94. 94. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But that’s ok
  95. 95. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com It’s far better to know the circumstances where your judgement is impaired
  96. 96. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com If you know, you’ll be able to do something about it, & (hopefully) make better decisions
  97. 97. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Then share your results with your team & talk to them about what you think you’ve learned
  98. 98. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Bonus tip: get others on your team to do this too (this might be particularly helpful if you don’t have tonnes of creative experience) I suspect you’ll all learn a lot, plus it will likely lead to a bunch of really great conversations
  99. 99. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Lesson II The solutions to all those thorny problems don’t need to come from you
  100. 100. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com For an awfully long time, I thought that in order to be a “good” manager; I had to have all the answers
  101. 101. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Or, more accurately, that it was my job to come up with workable solutions to problems
  102. 102. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com When I reflect on this now, I recognise how wrong-headed that notion was
  103. 103. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I’m sure you’ve been in situations where the solutions handed down from management, (even if well-intentioned), actually caused more problems than they solved
  104. 104. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com It’s likely you felt frustrated, or even demotivated as a result
  105. 105. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Because you felt that you could have come up with a better solution if only you’d been consulted
  106. 106. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com The realisation that I didn’t have to have all the answers, or solve all the problems, was a huge relief
  107. 107. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com My job was not to have the answers, it was just to facilitate finding them
  108. 108. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com For clarity, I’m in no way advocating for operating under this hellish mantra:
  109. 109. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!”
  110. 110. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Encouraging employees to come up with solutions to problems is undoubtedly a good thing, the trouble is, sending out this message doesn’t do that:
  111. 111. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!”
  112. 112. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com When you send out a message like this, what you’re really telling people is:
  113. 113. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com “Of all the problems you can find, I only want to hear about the ones you can solve” (more on this here: https://hbr.org/2008/02/dont-bring-me-problems-bring-m)
  114. 114. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com You definitely need to hear about the problems people have identified but can’t solve
  115. 115. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com As such this is what I tried to communicate: “Bring me problems, regardless of whether or not you have a solution”
  116. 116. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com One further sidenote: In many companies, I’ve observed a tendency to flip conversations about problems to possible solutions too quickly
  117. 117. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com In my experience, you’ll often come up with better solutions if you take the time to properly explore and understand the problem first
  118. 118. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Talking about problems shouldn’t be viewed as whining or being negative, it’s necessary in order to find good solutions
  119. 119. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Running sessions with my team to identify problems, talk about them, & come up with solutions together was infinitely better than trying to solve stuff on my own
  120. 120. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Creative teams are fantastic problem-solvers & my team came up with far better solutions than I ever could have done
  121. 121. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Plus, when a team comes up with solutions, they’re already bought in; which removes that awful management job of trying to sell-in a solution
  122. 122. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Bonus tip: Position any potential solution as an experiment: “we’re trying something new for a while” as opposed to positioning it as the solution that we will stick with forever
  123. 123. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Secure agreement within the team to try out something new
  124. 124. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Agree a timeframe for the experiment, then review how it’s gone
  125. 125. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com If it works, great!
  126. 126. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com If not, either iterate, or try out something else
  127. 127. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com This makes everything less scary for people: you’re not looking for a perfect solution, or a permanent solution
  128. 128. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com You’re just trying out something new for a while
  129. 129. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com While we’re here, I want to speak specifically about a couple of core problems
  130. 130. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I’ve seen them come up in pretty much every creative team I’ve worked either with or within:
  131. 131. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com “Get there faster”
  132. 132. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com “Be more creative”
  133. 133. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com & often the challenge is actually: “Get there faster” AND “Be more creative”
  134. 134. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Whilst doing both things at once is undoubtedly desirable, actually they’re in opposition to each other (more on this later)
  135. 135. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com “Get there faster” There are a lot of misconceptions about creative work, many people don’t realise the amount of time required to come up with effective creative ideas, or the production time required to make them a reality.
  136. 136. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Do you still want us to go faster if it means we’re creating campaigns that don’t generate such good results?
  137. 137. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com nope! no one wants that
  138. 138. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com So, how do you get there faster?
  139. 139. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com It typically used to take us around 8 weeks to produce a campaign
  140. 140. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I recognise that sounds like a long time, but what if I told you that for 25% of that time we weren’t working on the campaign at all, we were waiting on client feedback
  141. 141. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com One way to trim production time would be to have the client feedback faster
  142. 142. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Cute idea, but it’s unlikely to happen, huh?
  143. 143. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But exposing the production process can help people better understand these timelines
  144. 144. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Within the production process there are dependencies - (things which need to happen in a certain order) some things can happen concurrently, but some things can’t
  145. 145. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com For example, attempting to dev a campaign before the design phase is completed & signed off might not be the smartest idea
  146. 146. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Creating Gantt charts (or similar) can help illustrate these dependencies
  147. 147. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Of course there are other potential solutions too - e.g. reduced functionality will likely reduce dev time
  148. 148. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But again, in my experience, that’s not been a desirable solution
  149. 149. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Another option might be to hire more experienced data analysts, designers, and developers might those people be able to deliver faster?
  150. 150. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Yet again, in my experience, this often isn’t the answer people are looking for (plus, to be honest, I’m not 100% convinced it would actually work in any case)
  151. 151. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com It probably won’t surprise you to learn that one of the best solutions came from a member of my team, not from me
  152. 152. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com One of my developers highlighted that many of our campaigns shared similar formats and/or elements
  153. 153. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com & he began creating templates to speed up the dev process
  154. 154. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com He recognised that new or more complex elements would still need to be created by more senior developers, however the bulk of most campaigns could be created by more junior members of the team
  155. 155. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com The templates sped up the process, plus they allowed more than one developer to work on a campaign simultaneously allowing us to turnaround campaigns more quickly
  156. 156. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com What about this challenge though? “Be more creative”
  157. 157. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Part of the problem with this challenge is that it’s so poorly defined
  158. 158. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com What does “be more creative” actually mean?
  159. 159. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I feel like most of the time it means: “do something new or different to what you’ve done before”
  160. 160. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com The trouble is, if you’re doing something new, you’re in uncharted territory
  161. 161. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com The likelihood of you encountering unforeseen problems is increased
  162. 162. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com & it’s safe to assume production times will be much slower as a result
  163. 163. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com This two things are in opposition: “Get there faster” AND “Be more creative”
  164. 164. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I’m unconvinced that you can solve both of those things at once
  165. 165. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com The best I’ve been able to come up with is a compromise: do some new stuff (but acknowledge it will be slower to produce), AND do some stuff where there are fewer unknowns, (& therefore you’re more confident of the likely timelines)
  166. 166. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But if anyone has any better solutions I’d love to hear them :)
  167. 167. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Lesson III Figure out the highest impact thing you could be doing and (as far as humanly possible) just do that thing
  168. 168. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com This is much harder than it sounds
  169. 169. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com It’s really difficult to figure out what the highest impact thing you could be doing is
  170. 170. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Other people might not agree with the thing you think will have the highest impact
  171. 171. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com And, the highest impact thing will likely change over time
  172. 172. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I’m going to share a few examples of some of the challenges & missteps I’ve made:
  173. 173. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Example I: not everyone agreed with my high impact thing
  174. 174. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com When I joined Verve as Head of Creative, I was responsible for a team of around 12 people
  175. 175. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But only around 2 of those people regularly contributed campaign ideas for clients
  176. 176. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Others felt strongly that ideation was the highest impact thing I could be doing
  177. 177. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I felt that teaching others to ideate was the highest impact thing I could do
  178. 178. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com me being good at ideation is undoubtedly somewhat valuable
  179. 179. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But 12 people being good at ideation is infinitely more valuable
  180. 180. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I was challenged on two fronts: firstly, a pernicious creative myth:
  181. 181. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com “you can’t teach creativity”
  182. 182. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com creativity is a skill, not a talent, you can definitely teach it
  183. 183. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com & I was also heavily challenged in this direction: “We don’t have the time to do this - it’ll be much faster if you come up with the creative ideas”
  184. 184. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Of course this is true, it’s much faster to do something yourself, than train someone else to do it
  185. 185. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But training others is always higher impact
  186. 186. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com & it’s much more rewarding
  187. 187. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com One of my happiest moments at Verve was when I realised that I was no longer the MVP in terms of creative ideas
  188. 188. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I recognise that if you don’t have a creative background, this type of training & development might not be something you can personally do
  189. 189. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But you can still own the challenge by either encouraging internal people with these skills to develop others
  190. 190. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Or by bringing in external folks to help (hire me!)
  191. 191. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Example II when I failed to notice the thing that people cared about the most
  192. 192. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com When I arrived at Verve a lot of work had already been done in terms of mapping out progression plans
  193. 193. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But these hadn’t been reviewed in an awfully long time, & much of this documentation was out of date
  194. 194. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Because stuff like that has never personally motivated or interested me, I’m ashamed to say I just ignored it
  195. 195. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com big mistake
  196. 196. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I failed to pay attention to that stuff for far too long
  197. 197. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Eventually, I made sure that: - Paths to promotion were clearly worded, delineated, & measureable - If you don’t do this, people will rightly question why they aren’t being promoted - Objectives & KPIs are aligned with what you need to achieve as a business - Are you setting people KPIs or objectives which aren’t mentioned anywhere on the promotion maps? I was :( - There are at least two or three roles above where everyone on the team is currently at - If people can’t see what progression might look like for them, they’ll seek opportunities for progression outside the company
  198. 198. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com If I could go back in time I would have fixed this much sooner
  199. 199. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Remember, these solutions don’t necessarily need to come from you, work with members of your team to update documentation like this, and set dates to review these documents regularly
  200. 200. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Example III: when I failed to realise that I could make more of an impact if I got the hell out of people’s way
  201. 201. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com As Head of Creative I was ultimately responsible for the results of all of our creative campaigns
  202. 202. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com As such I was heavily involved in every piece we created for a very long time
  203. 203. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com & early on, when the team had less developed creative skills that was probably appropriate
  204. 204. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But I think I held on to creative direction for much longer than I should have done
  205. 205. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Prior to putting this talk together, I emailed a bunch of people who I used to manage to ask for their feedback
  206. 206. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com One person sent me this:
  207. 207. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com “You often had your own creative vision for a campaign, which didn’t always square with mine...”
  208. 208. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Uh oh… Kinda sounds like I was getting in the way, huh?
  209. 209. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I think I remained too close to this stuff for far too long
  210. 210. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com On reflection I feel like I should have and switched my focus to elevating people much sooner than I did
  211. 211. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com I feel like this is harder to do if you’ve a creative background
  212. 212. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com As such, in some instances not having a creative background might be an advantage - the thing you can most usefully do is elevate people; because things like creative direction aren’t where your expertise lies
  213. 213. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com So, how do you figure out the highest impact thing you could be doing?
  214. 214. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com ASK YOUR TEAM :)
  215. 215. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Here are some questions you could ask: - What should I be doing more of? - What should I be doing less of? - What things do I do, that you think you should be doing? - Where do you think I add the most value? - Where am I getting in your way? - Is there anything that really annoys or demotivates you? - What are your biggest blockers? - What do you think is holding us back right now?
  216. 216. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com You’ll still need to make the ultimate decision yourself, but I always found feedback like this really helpful
  217. 217. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com decide on the thing, communicate the thing, & do the thing
  218. 218. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But remember to review & iterate accordingly - if you don’t, you might find the thing you’ve been focused on is no longer the highest impact thing you could be doing
  219. 219. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Ok, it’s about time to wrap this thing up
  220. 220. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com So here’s a quick recap:
  221. 221. make some predictions your memory is unreliable, so actually record those predictions! you might also want to encourage others on your team to do the same Lesson I: It’s useful to know where your judgement is good, & it’s important to know where it’s really NOT good analyse the data figure out where you’re “good” & where you’re really not “good” share the results & act accordingly :) our judgement is considerably worse than we think (this might sound like a potentially fatal flaw, but I suspect it only becomes truly problematic when we fail to acknowledge that this is the case)
  222. 222. explore the problem thoroughly do this as a team don’t leap too quickly to potential solutions Lesson II: The solutions to all those thorny problems don’t need to come from you agree to try something new you’re not seeking a perfect solution, you’re just try out a new thing review & iterate if it works, great; if it doesn’t, then try another new thing when we send out messages like: “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions” what we’re actually saying is: “of all the problems you can find, I only want to hear about the ones you can solve”
  223. 223. get input from your team you’ll likely have a view, but the things you consider to be high impact might not be the things they care about the most Lesson III: Figure out the highest impact thing you could be doing and (as far as humanly possible) just do that thing decide on the thing communicate your focus & do the thing review & iterate stuff changes fast - is what you’re focusing on still the highest impact thing? if you’ve a creative background, balancing creative direction versus elevating people can be really tough to get right
  224. 224. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Finally, I’d encourage you to remember that getting things right is far more important than being right
  225. 225. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com So give people the opportunity to try stuff out
  226. 226. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Even if you’re not convinced that stuff will work
  227. 227. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com Firstly because, if things do go wrong people will actually learn something
  228. 228. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But mainly because that thing you think you know probably isn’t a thing at all
  229. 229. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com There were countless times members of my team tried things I was *certain* would not work
  230. 230. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com But I let them try out those things anyway
  231. 231. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com & you know what?
  232. 232. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com In many instances, I was wrong, & they were right
  233. 233. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com My team taught me way more than I could ever have hoped to teach them
  234. 234. good luck out there x
  235. 235. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com A massive thank you to the amazing humans who helped me put this talk together: Big love to Jaz Batisti, Julia Sabrowski, Sean Fitzsimmons, James Barnes, & Alex Cassidy for sharing their thoughts with me, & also to my entire team at Verve: you taught me so much :)
  236. 236. @hannah_bo_banna Worderist.com thoughts, feelings, questions? AMA :) Hannah Smith Creative Content Consultant Worderist.com Wanna hire me? drop me an email - hannah@worderist.com If you enjoyed this talk, you might also enjoy my newsletter : https://worderist.com/newsletter/

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