Mike Berry, our UK country manager, has some essential advice for building and maintaining a happy, successful creative team.
This article was first published as part of Creative Review’s Studio Sense columns.
Having a strong team around you is the most important factor in building a successful business. Before you can produce amazing work, you need to source the best talent for the job. Not only do you need a variety of skills, your team needs to have good chemistry and their personalities must blend.
The first step is to identify what your team will look like and what their goals will be. Make sure you know the expectations of the business before you begin hiring for roles. Once you know the main aims of the team, you can determine how much of the work can be done in house and what will need to be outsourced. It’s also a good idea to think about your hiring options. For example, could you hire at a junior level and train them? Are there elements that could be handled by a freelancer and would this create a better balance in the team? Once you have identified where the gaps in the team are, and what type of talent you need, you can begin to search for the perfect candidate.
Finding the right talent for your business is no easy task. We found, when talking with business managers from across the UK, that it is the biggest challenge for organisations today. The creative talent marketplace is complex, and knowing where or how to connect with the right people can be confusing and unclear. You are also faced with the struggle of competing to win over the best talent and the possibility of losing out to competitors in the market. However, there are many places where you can look for your talent. You just need to be creative and explore some of the less obvious avenues.
Universities are a great place to source talent, and they have a constantly renewing pool of skilled individuals who are just entering the job market. Try attending some grad shows or job fairs to get your business on their radar. You could also consider looking internally for your hires. Do you have any current employees who are looking to move departments? It can sometimes be an easier transition to reskill an existing member of staff than to hire externally. Do you offer an incentive for referrals? Your current team are your best asset when it comes to sourcing new talent, they may have contacts who would be perfect for your new role. You could even consider offering remote working for the role so that you can expand your talent search outside of your usual catchment area.
You need to think strategically about who it is that you hire. If you can accurately assess what skills you need to fulfil your business goals and be flexible with your hiring, you are more likely to succeed.
With creative businesses on the rise, talent often have the upper hand because demand simply outweighs supply. People with in-demand skills can effectively pick and choose from a variety of projects and roles available to them and their skill set. As a business owner you have to attract your chosen talent to come and join your team, when they may have several offers on the table.
Why would someone choose your organisation? What can you offer an employee that they will not get elsewhere? These are key questions you need to ask yourself when considering your hiring strategy.
Although hiring is a challenge, there are lots of tools to help you. Salary Guides are a great resource to help you be competitive in the market and there are organisations that can guide you and provide invaluable networking opportunities.
But the work doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve found the perfect talent for your business, you need to keep them. Talent retention can be just as much of a challenge as the initial hiring process. It is easy to become complacent once you have built up your dream team, but maintaining that enthusiasm is key.
You should always lead by example; positive leadership will encourage your team to be motivated, dedicated and creative. Generate trust from your talent and always support them when things go wrong. Be approachable and always keep the channels of communication open.
When things go right, it’s important to give positive feedback. Showing appreciation for hard work will make your team feel valued and will encourage loyalty. Not only will the quality of your team’s work improve but morale will be higher, leading to a positive attitude towards their role and the business as a whole.
Always challenge your team. Make sure they are constantly learning, developing, and growing. Find out their goals and interests, then help them develop in those areas through online courses, seminars or events. It will not only add new skills to your team but make them happier. Allocate a training budget and make sure your talent are aware that they can use it for advancing their skillsets. There are online training programmes available, such as Lynda.com, which you can tailor training to your team’s needs. Or you can access free online courses through our Gymnasium training classes.
Look beyond remuneration when prioritising what will keep your talent happy. A competitive salary is important, but an exciting working environment and a sense of community will also help you retain your team. Make coming to work fun. Encourage your team to mix with their colleagues and organise work socials to help with team bonding. There are plenty of company benefits you can offer to your team in addition to their monthly wage, and this type of compensation will make them feel valued and help your business stand out as a great place to work. In such a competitive market, every little helps!