A content team is only as good as its most creative ideas. For many content managers, however, encouraging staff to come up with bigger and better concepts can feel like an uphill battle. The truth is that getting the most out of your creative employees can be very different, especially when you’re encouraging staff in more pragmatic departments.
For example, members of the accounting team know that most tasks have a logical, tangible process and most problems have an objective answer. In a creative-based department such as content, however, ideas and work tasks are far more fluid. Sometimes self-confidence gets in the way. Sometimes it’s a matter of broadening the scope of thinking. Sometimes the problem might be as cliché as ‘writer’s block’.
The good news is that it is possible to implement tactics that encourage your writers to write better content and create better ideas. How you ask? Keep reading to find out.
1. Identify what the problem is
You can’t fix a problem when you don’t really understand it. This is why it’s important to take the time to sit down and consider what barrier is stopping your team from realising their potential. A good way to do this is by asking your team to write down three reasons why they stop themselves from putting forward ideas. You can collect these responses anonymously and use them to privately develop a well-rounded understanding of the problems you’re facing.
Chances are, there will be a common thread or two amongst this list. Some examples of what you mind find are:
– Feelings of insecurity that their ideas aren’t good enough.
– Believing they are not given enough time for the idea creation process.
– Micro-managing issues where higher up team members (perhaps even yourself) take the reins on content pitching and leave others feeling unable to work autonomously.
– Being scared to put forward an idea based on past rejection.
From here, you can identify the main issues and then have an open discussion with your team to see how you can help them going forward.
2. Encourage your team to brainstorm privately
Have you ever noticed that when you haul the content team into a meeting room to brainstorm new ideas, a few people speak up while the rest fade into the background? The reason for this probably stems from a few of the issues you discovered in the previous point, but the solution is relatively straightforward; the brainstorming process should always start privately.
Tell your team that you want them to individually come up with 2-3 ideas each. This provides the opportunity for research, allowing your workers to use their own skills to be as effective as they can. Once everyone is done brainstorming by themselves, bring everyone together and go through each idea one by one. This way, you will have a long list of great pitches that you can work on as a team to make even better. You will likely find that your employees who rarely spoke up during past brainstorming sessions are now putting forth really useful ideas. This is because they were allowed the time and space to be creative and productive without pressure or hesitation.
3. Take a back seat
Most content managers lead the pack when it comes to content ideation. In fact, the thought of leaving their team to pitch ideas amongst themselves probably sounds counter-productive to most. However, the result is often quite the opposite, as it can work as a great way to establish autonomy, confidence and rapport within the group.
Many employees feel intimidated or even micro-managed when they aren’t given the space to be creative by authority figures in the workplace. Taking a step back from the brainstorming and pitching sessions is a great way to say, ‘I have faith in my team to develop great ideas on their own’. Provide them with resources and websites to help with their strategies and see what they come up with – most times, you’ll be very surprised by the results. Your workers will likely devise new, more original strategies, like blending content with storytelling.
Of course, you won’t need to remove yourself from pitching sessions forever. After a while, your employees will see that you enjoy hearing their suggestions and will feel far more comfortable pitching directly to you.
4. Regularly take the time to offer constructive feedback
As a manager, it’s your job to help your team advance their skills and create bigger and better ideas over time. But they can’t be expected to do that if they don’t know where or how they can improve. For this reason, establishing regular feedback sessions with each of your staff is essential to helping them grow and pitch better ideas.
This can simply be done by holding one-on-one meetings with your staff once a fortnight or once a month. Use this time to provide genuinely constructive feedback – that is, acknowledging both areas of success and areas that need improvement – so your team member can leave the meeting with a good idea of what they should work on next. This time can also be used to have discussions about what could help your team with their creative process or what may be affecting their output.