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IPA Seminar — How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself)

Sunshine bursting through clouds

Photo by JeffBelmonte

On 24 April I’m running a half day seminar for members of The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, about How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself).

Here are the details:

How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself)

A practical seminar to help you get inside the heads of creative workers and bring out their best work.

Objectives / Benefits

  • Understand how motivation affects performance – especially creativity
  • Use non-monetary motivations to get the best out of people on a limited budget
  • Turn problems into inspiring challenges
  • Get better work out of creative people
  • Avoid (inadvertently) crushing people’s motivation and harming performance
  • Use rewards effectively
  • Understand and influence many different types of people
  • Facilitate better team collaboration
  • Adjust your approach according to how the recession affects your agency


  • What makes creative people tick
  • Why motivation is crucial to performance
  • Why offering rewards can sometimes harm performance
  • The 4 most powerful types of motivation
  • Practical ways to use each type of motivation
  • Which motivations to use in the best/worst case recession scenarios
  • What Iggy Pop can teach you about management
  • How to write 47 novels before breakfast
  • Why some people seem so weird – and how to deal with them
  • The positive side of peer pressure

Who should attend

Managers, creative directors, account managers – and anyone else charged with facilitating outstanding performance.

What People Say About the E-book – How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself)

“If you’re a creative director like me, it’s a must-read.”
Tim Siedell, Fusebox

“The kind of reading that should be required for new supervisors as well as those in the creative professions.”
Steve Roesler, Roesler Consulting Group

Mark McGuinness is a coach and trainer specialising in work with creative professionals and creative industries companies. He writes two popular blogs about creative business: www.wishfulthinking.co.uk and www.lateralaction.com.

Please note — the seminar is open to IPA members only.

To book your place(s): Login to the IPA CPD Zone. Once logged in, click on ‘Training Courses’, then ‘Friday Morning Energisers’ – my session is on 24 April.

Non-IPA members — if you are interested in booking a seminar on this topic for your organisation, please e-mail me or call me on 01707 644 665 for a confidential discussion about your needs.

HR Carnival – Tackling the Management Problems of a Recession

Venetian festival costume with orange ruff and mask.
Photo by Alaskan Dude

Jon Ingham is hosting an HR blog carnival — or as he calls it ‘Carnevale delle Risorse Umane’. Why la lingua bella? Well, Jon points out that it’s carnival season in Venice, which is as good an excuse as any to include a beautiful image of one of the stunning Venetian costumes on. So I’ve followed suit.

After you’ve marvelled at the masks, check out the great collection of articles he’s assembled from HR professionals offering solutions to the management problems raised by the current recession.

Nestling among them, you’ll find my piece on How to Motivate People during a Recession.

Now where did I put my orange ruff…?

How to Motivate People During a Recession

Sunshine bursting through clouds

Photo by JeffBelmonte

A few weeks into 2009, and we don’t need to look far for doom and gloom, hysterical headlines and grim-faced news readers. The main debate now seems to be how long, deep and bad the recession will be.

But what if it’s your job to inspire and motivate people to do their best? How can you stop all this negativity corroding your team’s spirit and damaging their performance?

If you’re a manager or leader, you’re probably as concerned as anyone about the economic situation. But your success – maybe even your company’s survival – depends on your ability to get top-class performance out of your team. Which isn’t going to happen if they are so stressed and depressed by circumstances that they are not 100% focused on their work.

Even in some of the better case scenarios, where the organisation’s future is reasonably secure, you may well not have much to offer them in terms of pay rises, bonuses and other incentives.

And you’re only human, so there may well be days when you struggle to motivate yourself, let alone people around you.

In this article, I’m going to offer some practical tips to help you motivate your team members in spite of – or even because of – the present challenges you face together. And I encourage you to use these same principles to maintain your own enthusiasm and commitment. [Read more…]

Motivating Creative People – Personal Values

Enneagram diagram

Image by Sandra Renshaw

Manager: “I just don’t understand it. I’ve tried everything, but he still doesn’t get it. He just carries on doing the opposite of what he’s supposed to do.”

Me: “Well I’ve heard a lot about why you want him to do it, and a lot of reasons why he ‘should’ do it. But the question I haven’t heard the answer to is ‘What’s in it for him?'”

(Long silence.)

Manager: “That’s a very good question.”

I’m in no danger of breaking confidentiality by telling you this conversation – I’ve had it hundreds of times, with managers at all levels, in many different companies. And I hope it doesn’t suggest that I’m a particularly brilliant coach – it is a good question, but I didn’t invent it. And the main reason it occurs to me when it doesn’t occur to a manager is that he or she is immersed in the situation, while I’m in the position of a privileged outsider. To the manager, it’s obvious why a particular outcome is important – for the company, for the team, even for the individual concerned. He or she can’t understand why the team member in question doesn’t take it as seriously.

Sometimes the situation can be resolved by explaining exactly what, why and how things should be done differently. But at other times the employee carries on regardless, apparently oblivious to the manager’s threats and entreaties. Words like ‘difficult’, ‘lazy’ and ‘unmotivated’ start to be bandied about.

It’s time to look at things differently.

[Read more…]

Motivating Creative People – Rewards for Work

Photo by Steepways for Obama!

“I went into the business for money and the art grew out of it. If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can’t help it. It’s the truth.”
Charlie Chaplin, Academy Award acceptance speech, 1972

Show me a professional artist or creative with no ambition and I’ll show you a liar. No matter how much we may love our art for its own sake, very few of us will turn our noses up at the rewards on offer, such as money, fame, status and privilege. Such rewards are known as extrinsic motivations, because they are external to the work itself. In many creative fields, the extrinsic rewards on offer are so spectacular that competition is cutthroat and hordes of young (and not so young) hopefuls are prepared to invest huge amounts of time, effort and energy for a shot at the big time.

‘But hang on a minute — didn’t you say in the last post that intrinsic motivation is critical for creative success? And that most creative professionals are more motivated by the joy of work than by money?’ [Read more…]

Motivating Creative People – The Joy of Work

Iggy Pop singing
Photo by alexsey.const

In Seth Godin’s new book Tribes, he tells the story of being on holiday in Jamaica, unable to sleep and getting up at 4 AM to check his e-mail in the hotel lobby. As he’s sat there quietly minding his own business, a couple of partygoers roll in from a nightclub. One of them gives him a withering look and hisses ‘in a harsh whisper little quieter than a yell’:

isn’t it sad? That guy comes here on vacation and he’s stuck checking his e-mail. He can’t even enjoy his two weeks off.

And the funny thing is, says Seth, ‘Other than sleeping, there was nothing I’d rather have been doing at that moment — because I’m lucky enough to have a job where I get to make change happen’. Seth is a classic case of a worker driven by intrinsic motivation — i.e. the work is rewarding in itself, something he does for the sheer pleasure of it. Many creative workers say ‘I love my work so much I do it for free’, but Seth take this further — according to one of his recent blog posts, he goes out of his way to avoid making money from most of his work.

I’m not as hardcore as Seth about the money part, but I know how he feels about work. I love my work. I love reading, writing, researching and thinking of ideas. I love spending time with interesting, challenging, talented creative people. I love making new connections, between people, ideas, skills and resources. I love making things — this blog, my poems, my e-books, Lateral Action, my courses, animated films — and who knows what next?

And the chances are, if you use your creativity at work, you feel the same way. You chose your job or your line of business not just because of the money or status but because it’s something you passionately want to do. You started off with a lot of enthusiasm and unless it’s been crushed or blocked, you probably still have it in spades. [Read more…]

How to Motivate Creative People

Photo by Ken@Yokohama

A question that often arises in my work with companies is how to keep creative employees motivated. Sometimes the question comes from a manager who doesn’t see herself as ‘a creative’, so she’s looking for a way to engage people with a different mindset. Other times it’s from a creative director who’s cottoned on to the fact that what drives him isn’t necessarily the main motivator for everyone on his team.

So this is the start of a short series looking at motivation, creativity and creative people. It’s primarily written for managers and directors whose job it is to get top performance out of creative teams — but I hope it will also be of interest to creative professionals of all kinds, who would like a bit more insight into their own motivations and creative process. [Read more…]

Ed Batista Questions Mark

Question Mark

Photo by -bast-

Fellow coach Ed Batista has published a three-question interview with me. I always think you can tell good coaches by the questions they ask, and Ed’s questions prompted me to reflect on my work and explain some things I hadn’t consciously thought about before – thanks Ed!

As well as enquiring about my work and use of technology, Ed held me to account by asking how my New Year’s Resolution is going – if you want to find out whether I’ve kept it, you’d better head over to Ed’s blog.

PS – If you were following my Twitter feed you’d have heard about this interview last week, as well as the Jill Bolte-Tayor video and free tickets for Charles Leadbeater’s talk about creativity and the internet. On the other hand, you’d also have heard about me watching football on TV and using the wrong end of my Wacom pen, so I guess it all evens out.

Free E-book – Creative Management for Creative Teams

Creative Management for Creative Teams

If you are responsible for getting the best out of a team of creative professionals, my new e-book on Creative Management for Creative Teams is for you. Feel free to download and share it (here are the terms of the Creative Commons licence).

The e-book is a compilation and revision of my business coaching blog series.

Introduction to the E-book – Why Coaching?

As a creative director, business owner or manager of a creative team, the chances are you already coach your people to an extent – and you may be better at it than you realise. But there’s also a fair chance that you have received little support in developing your people management skills.

In the creative industries, so much attention is lavished on creative ‘talent’ and the products of creativity that vital aspects of the creative process are often overlooked. Such as the massive influence (positive and negative) managers and creative directors have on the creativity of their teams. While many individual managers are doing an excellent job of managing and developing their teams, there is little wider recognition of people management in the creative sector.

It’s hard to develop a skill that goes unrecognised. And you don’t need me to tell you that managing temperamental creatives can be one of the most challenging jobs going. [Read more…]

Recommended Business Coaching Books

Table, chairs, blue sky

The Business Coaching series is now available to download as a free ebook Creative Management for Creative Teams.

To round off my Introduction to Business Coaching series I’ve added a page to the sidebar on Recommended Business Coaching Books. These are the books I regularly recommend to managers looking to develop their coaching skills. Although I’ve not yet discovered a book on coaching creative teams, I’ve chosen the books that I think are most relevant to managers and directors in creative businesses.

Next week I’ll make the whole series available as a free e-book. Till then, enjoy browsing through the books.