Inspiring and retaining those vital intelligent creatives


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This article was contributed by Marjorie Radlo-Zandi

In the engineering universe and in the life sciences, intelligent creatives are among the most sought-after professionals. Their titles range from UX/UI designer, software developer, chief creative, scientist, to web developer and designer, visual designer, augmented reality engineer, virtual reality designer, game designer, mobile designer and so on.

With a rising demand for these types of skills and not enough supply from these key professionals, great leaders and founders need to know how to inspire and hold on these vital members of your team.

Imagine a technology company with a fresh new Series B funding round, a well-thought-out mission statement, leadership that works, and a breakthrough product that can truly change people’s lives. The pay is very competitive at the higher end of the scale, as are bonuses and stock options. Talented professionals would practically pay to work there because its reputation is based on the space it provides for creatives to shine. But after a year the company grew into a true revolving door.

Why is a company’s employee retention rate falling so quickly? What could have happened to create this disagreement?

With the intention of increasing the company’s leadership, one of the company’s advisors used his network to recruit a new Chief Technology Officer (CTO). But their vetting lacked this person’s leadership style: excessive micromanaging without risk and experimentation.

The talent market was robust with plenty of opportunities, and a month into the new CTO’s tenure, key employees were running. Six months later, half of the coaching staff was gone and others soon followed.

This is a cautionary tale about guarding your company’s reputation as a precious jewel in the crown. If you want your business to be known as the place where creatives thrive and do their best work – or to keep that reputation healthy, there are certain things leadership needs to consider.

Challenge your creatives and get out of the way

More important than compensation, give them the most challenging problems and then get out of the way. If you respect that your intelligent ad has a very different view of the world, they will do everything they can to meet the challenge. Have them jump agility courses they’ve made for themselves. Make sure the challenges and opportunities you present have clear goals that support their creativity.

Give at least 20% of their time to create their own personal projects that benefit your organization. Some of google’s significant progress has been made through this approach. Suggest, not impose. Avoid micromanaging and harsh leadership. Doing all this will reduce the chances of your intelligent creatives using their talents elsewhere.

Fulfill promise

Full of optimism to make a difference, creatives often join organizations that claim to be forward-thinking, but in reality require their workforce to follow a path that leaves no room for out-of-the-box thinking and contrarianism. Creatives fail to adapt and will invariably leave a restrictive employer for more fertile pastures where they can thrive at another promising company, or build their own.

Adjust your leadership style

Develop and implement a leadership style that brings out the best. Stimulate skill development and encourage your creatives to grow. Stay open to their out-of-the-box thinking, because that’s how you stimulate the biggest innovations.

Don’t be authoritarian. If you keep your bright creatives in check with career killers like repetitive tasks and bureaucracy, they’ll feel suffocated and unhappy and you risk losing them and being stuck cleaning up the mess they’ve created when they open the door. went out.

When you adopt a coaching leadership style, your creative’s talents blossom.

Show your appreciation

Make sure your creatives know you value their strengths and where they excel. Understand what inspires them so that both of you can make the most of the talents they bring to your organization. Give them the admiration and respect they deserve, including compensation, and in return they will apply their most inventive selves to their work, along with a staunch loyalty.

Give intelligent creatives space and respect

While creatives want your leadership, I can say from personal experience that they don’t need much leadership. They know what to do; give them the autonomy to do it. Their morale will skyrocket because you give them the freedom and space to be great. In return, they deliver in spades.

While creatives value challenges and the space to thrive more than a salary, that’s not a license to undercompensate. Respect the market value of your creative by offering a robust compensation package, including salary, bonus, stock options or limited shares that vest over time, and a first-class medical benefit.

If you lose an ad, expect to pay a lot more for their replacement – it’s lost time and productivity because the new person doesn’t have the institutional knowledge to get them up to speed. You may not be able to hire someone right away, because even with a great reputation as the company for creatives, your company still competes for these individuals who are picked up for attractive positions at other promising organizations.

Be intentional and purposeful in inspiring and retaining your intelligent creatives. If you understand their special qualities and accept that they operate on a unique wavelength of their craft, their creativity can be the spark that catapults your company’s product or service into that rarest species – a unicorn.

Marjorie Radlo-Zandic is a board member, counselor and mentor to founders as they build and scale their businesses, provide angel funds to promising startups, invest for impact, advise on business growth, and encourage a more diverse and inclusive startup ecosystem.

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