Biking into work the other day, I was thinking about how managing people in creative professions – writers, designers, producers – might be different from managing other kinds of workers.
As a manager of a writing team at CBC/Radio-Canada, and a writer myself, I knew I thrived when I had creative control over my projects, lots of autonomy, and the space and time to create my best work.
I figured creative types, more than anything, wanted to be able to sit back and think “wow, that really works” – whether it’s the script for a comedy sketch, a design for a new marketing ad, an online article or a radio documentary. And if others also noticed that it was well done, all the better.
On the other hand, I thought they might be less motivated by external factors such as promotions, power, money or status – unless these things allowed them to have more control over what and how they’re creating.
But this was all theory.
First I asked one of my writers. She agreed with what I had to say, adding, “I need to feel passionate about, or at least interested in, what I do. It’s not just a job for me.”
CBC/Radio-Canada is the country’s largest cultural institution and employs many, many people whose primary role is creative. Obviously, knowing how to get the best out of creative employees must be a priority for the Corporation.
So I decided to ask Francine MacInnis what she knew about this topic. Not only is Francine the head of talent management for CBC/Radio-Canada, she also has a Ph.D. in Psychology and is clearly passionate about what she does.
According to Francine, “If I had to characterize the kind of research we’ve been doing, it’s a lot about the current marketplace being a creative/innovative market. The basic message is that we need to shift to a very human approach to management in which employees bring their whole selves, their passions, and their ideas to work and away from traditional industrial models that were not well-designed for creative work.”
“Some of the conditions that enable this are high trust, flexibility, autonomy, and inviting people to contribute where they have passion – even outside of their core assignment at times. This can be tricky for us to balance in our environment where there is a “show to run.” But it’s an area we need to explore further because this contributes to competitive advantage in that employees bring all of their gifts to the table.”
Celebrated American career analyst Dan Pink has written and spoken extensively on motivation. He has shown from years of hard, scientific research that things like bonuses and commissions do not sharpen thinking and accelerate creativity – in fact, it does just the opposite. It dulls thinking and blocks creativity. He explains that there are three things that employees really need to make motivation and creativity thrive – autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Francine agrees. “It’s all about purpose, passion and autonomy to pursue inspirational ideas and make them happen. Great news for us, really, that it’s not necessarily about monetary recognition. We really need to keep getting better at creating the right conditions for our employees and then doing our very best to get out of their way.”
- Leah Geller, Editorial Manager, CBC/Radio-Canada