Office Politics & Creative Direction

Getting It Done

May 2016

Wouldn’t it be great if we all just got along at work? If we all agreed on everything, there were no posturing, no one-upmanship or no politics? Unfortunately, that’s not happening any time soon, especially in the marketing world. When you work in an area responsible for creative direction, design or even branding, you can be sure any idea you bring to the table will garner many opinions. So with so many opinions and comments—which might not even be relevant—how are you supposed to get anything done?

It’s a challenge to say the least. With so many personalities and the fact that creative work, such as advertising, promotional materials, writing and image selection, is so subjective, it’s a wonder things get out the door. Thankfully they do, and usually what gets produced is pretty darn good. So if you’re the person who has to navigate everything—the ideation, the creative, the approvals and the execution—how do you get to the end result? Keep these basic principles in mind:

Remove the emotion: I get it. You want to produce something you’re proud of. You put your heart and soul into this idea, tweaked it until you were blue in the face and are sure it’s perfect. There’s absolutely no room for improvement. Au contraire. But there is. It is rare that you present something the first time and it’s an immediate go. The sooner you accept that, the easier (and less stressful) the process will be. Remember, the feedback and comments you get are not about you personally. I understand it feels like they are because of all the work you put into your project, but they’re not. It’s business. Listen and be open to feedback and suggestions—they could make what you’re doing even better.

Make sure you’ve thought through your work: Just like everyone you present your project to may have an opinion, you may disagree. Go in with an open mind and be prepared to discuss the decisions you made and why you made them. Why did you use that shade of red? Is the call to action too small? Is it the right call to action? Answering these questions confidently and concisely by laying out your reasoning helps build buy-in from those you’re presenting to. You might not get full consensus, but it will help make your case. The more confident you present your reasoning, the more confidence the team will have in you.

Learn the art of compromise: It would be great if you left the room and everyone was in full agreement, but unfortunately, that’s unlikely. And that’s OK. Listen to comments, be open to suggestions, and be flexible. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak up when you disagree or you think it compromises the success of what you’re working on. But understand there is a give and take. Give in on the smaller, less important things so you can professionally stand your ground where it counts.

Ultimately, you want to produce something that you’re proud of and that will generate the greatest ROI, whatever that may be. But if you spend too much time on the differences of opinion, your chance of success is already hindered. Sometimes getting approvals and incorporating that feedback is the hardest, most time-consuming part of the process. But keeping the above principles in mind will help smooth out the process and lead to better outcomes.

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Eileen Weinberg

Eileen Weinberg

Director, Brand & Analyst Strategy
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