How to pull your team out of a creative block

One of the most frustrating things is when your car’s tires get bogged. No matter how hard you push on the accelerator or attempt to push the car out of the mud, nothing prevails. That’s what a creative block feels like. Our minds can get stale and begin to visualise nothing but that dreaded tunnel. We cannot see beyond the tips of our noses and end up recycling data within our minds with no progress in sight. If this happens within your team, you’ve sunk into the infamous creative block. We need solutions that will be an effective barrier between our team’s creative productivity and creative success. Well, guess what, folks, I’ve got some for you. 

Grab a magnifying glass & identify the problem

The first step we need to take when escaping the bog is to identify the issues and face them head-on. There may be one underlying issue or a dozen smaller issues. A creative block generally stems from being uninspired, distracted or bored. We don’t want any of these descriptive words anywhere near our creative project. The question is, what are the issues we need to identify?

Observe the team’s focus & attention

A common issue that arises alongside a creative block is distractions. Is your team focused, or is their attention divided? Perhaps certain team members are taking on too much at once? Maybe they’re unsure about the steps to take? Are they uninspired or bored by the task at hand? These need to be identified as soon as possible to determine what the solution needs to be. You also need to identify potential distractions that need to be eliminated. This could be loud construction next door, an unproductive office arrangement, too much time at the desk or maybe hunger.

Are your team members the right people for a creative project?

A crucial element that will need to be investigated is whether or not the team members are the right fit for a creative project. It wouldn’t be productive to assign an IT specialist to a creative marketing project. They do not have the same capability as a content marketer. It is also relevant to know each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, ensuring they are assigned to tasks they could do well. For example, a graphic designer would not have the appropriate skills to write an engaging blog.

Put on a tool belt and fix the apparent issues

When equipped with our tool belt, we need to look for a loose nail or flimsy structure that needs repairing. As I said, perhaps the team has spent way too much time chained to the desk or visualising the same data over and over again. Suggest going for a walk, grabbing a bite to eat or just having a fifteen-minute break. 

Introduce new angles & perspectives

We want to introduce new angles and perspectives to elevate our team from this bog. Without doing this, progress would be impossible to achieve. Luckily, we have the internet at our disposal and a million perspectives on one topic. So why not use them?

Let me give you an example:

A marketing team for a perfume line is trying to develop a new approach to engage their customers. They feel their old forms of marketing have lost engagement over time as they are cliche and predictable. As they sit and ponder new ideas, they find themselves hitting a wall. They ask themselves, “what more can we do? We’ve done everything!” Of course, from their tired perspective, they feel that way. It is the team leader’s job to pull them out of it. So what do they do?

Get them away from that computer screen, desk or notepad. Take them to the park or a coffee shop. Avoid discussing the issue for fifteen minutes. Discuss personal things like the team’s plans for the weekend and as they decompress, bring up the creative rut in a conversational tone. Out in the fresh air, lead the team into a brainstorming session. Find keywords to research which will assist in gaining more insight. After that, head back to the office and follow any new ideas or leads.

The perfume marketing team follows these steps a decides on a fresh approach that relies on animations for their advertising to differentiate themselves from their competitors. 

This won’t be the only step to help escape the bog, but it is certainly a start. 

Conquer your team’s lack of confidence or fear of failure

We need to conquer our team’s lack of confidence or fear of failure is the key to innovation. I’ve always found that confidence is the fertiliser for my blossoming ideas. We need to be sure of our thoughts, and we need our leadership to nurture this confidence. There is also another factor to consider; your team’s mental health. The fear and anxiety of failure holds us back. It prevents us from taking risks. It thickens the mud and makes the bog that much harder to escape. Watch out for signs that indicate your team may need help or a confidence boost to rejuvenate their creative mindset. 

Empower your team member’s ideas

Empowering your team’s ideas will make them feel valued and heard. This will further empower their confidence and creative ideas. You may be asking yourself, “how would this random girl know this?”

Let me provide you with a personal anecdote: 

From a younger person’s perspective, it is easy to feel undervalued. You don’t have much experience or background to make you stand out. When you’re a part of a far more qualified team than you, you can quickly feel inadequate. We want to elevate every member of the team so they can reach their full potential. I know it sounds cliche, but from my own experience having your voice empowered and your ideas acknowledged allows those creative juices to flow. You are also aiding these team members to speak up and voice a perspective that could solve the creative block. 

Maintain the now reinvigorated creative workflow

Now that the team is back on the creative track, we want them to remain that way for as long as possible. It is much easier to fall into the bog than pull yourself out of it. 

A guide to staying on the creative course:

  • Create a culture where your team is confident in exploring and expressing their ideas without the fear of failure,
  • Have a plan in place to set aside a small budget for experiment ideas,
  • Regularly expose your team to new angles and perspectives,
  • Avoiding chaining the team to the desk,
  • Emphasise the importance of taking risks. 

We want to avoid vague and unproductive brainstorming sessions that only confuse and muddle the goals and tasks. It is also vital to remain realistic and uphold a confident, creative space and steer away from unattainable examples of success. Expecting unattainable goals will attract those fears of failure. Resist sounding overly technical and remain conversational—frame fresh ideas using language that will resonate with your team. 

At Myrecruitment+, we have found that having creative freedom in a collaborative environment will thin out the mud of the dreaded creative bog. We not only want to pull our team out of a creative block but prevent it altogether.