Positioning Creative Managers for Greater Success

Moving from an individual contributor to a manager is one of the most challenging career transitions employees go through. This isn’t news, and it’s not the first time you’ve read this on our blog.

For years, Andy Epstein, Rena DeLevie and I have shared war stories with each other about our transition to management and those of the talented people we’ve had the pleasure of working with. We also spoke to tens, if not hundreds, of creative leaders who shared their stories. Many of these stories included a lack of formal management training. All of a sudden, or so it seemed, former designers/writers/coders/project managers/etc. were now managers, though—like with parenting—no one handed them a playbook.

At some best-in-class organizations, we heard of corporate trainings like “Management 101” (I was lucky enough to go through this with my former organization) that supported new managers succeeding in their new roles, however, more often than not employees don’t receive formal management training. This drove Andy, Rena and me nuts: a manager’s performance has HUGE implications on an individual’s, team’s and department’s success. And we all probably know or can at least fathom: the better your manager is, the more likely you are to stay with your organization.

Taking on Professional Development for the Creative Industry

Cella launched our first professional development program, Beyond the Creative, for creative leaders in Fall 2010. As many of you are familiar, we have several iterations of that event cleverly named 1,2, 3, 4 and…wait for it…5. Around the time we were launching Beyond the Creative 4, Andy, Rena and I got serious about our vision to provide new managers with a better introduction to management. We wanted to focus on helping new managers better understand their role as people developers, culture builders and leaders while also providing them a foundation of creative operations best practices (SOPs, SLAs, OLAs, oh my!).

It is our passion at Cella that creative managers, even at the most junior management level, understand the business of creative, and, in fact, treat their scope/area of responsibility as a business.

Creative Manager Boot Camp is Born

To this end, Andy, Rena and I created Creative Manager Boot Camp. In addition to supporting new managers, we hoped to attract aspiring managers who either by their own insistence or their manager’s encouragement would attend to gain a broader perspective on what it means to be a creative manager and leader. For some, the boot camp would add gas to their fire to become a manager; for others, it might shed light that management may not be where their true passion lies. Lastly, we hoped the boot camp would attract managers who have been in seat for as many as 3-5 years but never received and were still seeking formal management training.

Since fall 2015, we have hosted more than 150 creative managers in five different cities, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Across the past two years, we have refined our content to bring in new resources and incorporate previous attendees’ feedback. Cella’s mission is to position in-house creatives for success, and we’re really proud to support management and leadership development within the industry.

Our final Creative Manager Boot Camp in 2017 will be held in Philadelphia, September 18–19. We’d love for you, or one of your colleagues, to join us. Learn more about our program and register here.

In her role as Cella General Manager, Jackie Schaffer has consulted for Fortune 500 clients with more than 400 in-house team members and for teams at mid-sized businesses, government entities and educational institutions with teams as small as four designers. Her management competencies lie in operations assessments, financial management and talent management. Prior to joining Cella, she led an international “mega-sized” creative team through an evolution of production studio to strategic partner.

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