In my last post, I wrote about coaching. Over the weekend, this theme continued when I saw this NYT article, “Google’s Quest To Build a Better Boss.” You might expect an HR Director, not a Creative Director, to focus a lot on the subject of performance reviews, feedback surveys and day to day managing, but I love this subject because creative development is nothing but a exercise in teamwork and therefore, management. The reality of creative is, the winning idea that will get presented to the client comes to life when one person on the team comes up with it. That’s just the way creative happens. But the management challenge is making sure everyone on the team knows (and believes) they share in that idea, that their area of expertise, if not executed perfectly, hurts the overall product. Research meetings take place for weeks, consumer insights get shared, articles get emailed around, ideas good and bad are put on the wall, all of this leads to someone connecting all the dots and blurting out something simple and brilliant. It’s the ultimate team exercise, and if anyone on the team isn’t motivated to exhaust themselves on every project, success is that much harder.
When it comes to creative management, I’ve subscribed to two truths throughout my career. First, I never hire someone who isn’t better than me. I mean, that’s a no-brainer. Second, I realized early on that although creatives tend to get the credit—and when they come up with something really smart, they deserve credit—they can’t take full credit, because it takes at least five people to create a standout campaign. From account, research and planning to creative and production, and if any of those steps is compromised, if anyone is going through the motions, if the team isn’t connected at the hip, if individual input doesn’t feel valued, if people don’t respect each other, then everyone’s time is wasted.
But here’s the news, thanks to Google. We sort of all know the management basics. . Communicate clearly, be accessible, give lots of one-on-one feedback, outline clear team goals while offering the opportunity for individual growth. That’s 101 stuff. Google has gone further by creating a list of all the good stuff bosses should be doing, called the “Eight Good Behaviors, and here’s the kicker: Google then ranks them importance. All of which means, if you have managerial responsibilities, Google has just showed you how to prioritize your focus. The highest priority? Even for tech-heavy Google, the highest priority is “Be A Good Coach.” Surprisingly, having “technical skills to help the team” is the lowest. All of which tells me, lunch is more important than Photoshop.
I have a lot of creative nuggets and quotes and photos pinned to my office wall. The list of “Eight Good Behaviors” will be front and center.