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Behind every successful project there’s a great team of people who support each other and push each other to be their very best.

Rachael Ritchie  |  October 7, 2015

Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people. – Nicholas Sparks

To be clear, I don’t think advertising is like a Nicholas Sparks novel, but after 10 years I’ve learned that doing things with the right people is 99% of the game. Behind every successful project there’s a great team of people who support each other and push each other to be their very best. And when I say ‘team’ I don’t just mean the “creative” team. I’m talking about everyone who touches the assignment, including our client partners. Here are some other things I’ve have learned along the way.

1. It’s a team sport.
When you first start in this industry you are divided into account teams and creative teams, production teams and strategy teams. I get it. Titles help describe the areas of an agency and divide responsibilities. The truth though, is that we are united by our goal of finding the best answers. And those answers can come from anyone. Sometimes the best writing comes from an account person. Sometimes a designer uncovers the best strategic insights. The point is, focusing on the problem at hand and breaking down the department walls is the best way to gather ideas. Just because you aren’t considered a “creative” doesn’t mean you aren’t creative. Work together. Listen to each other’s thoughts. Every idea counts and you never know whose thought will spark an amazing idea.

2. Get to know your team.
The hardest part of building a team is getting a bunch of totally different people with different skills to relax and understand each other. If people are tense and guarded, nothing good is going to happen. But once everyone starts to have fun, you get ideas that you never would have heard if the group were all writers or art directors. Everyone works differently, and that’s a great thing. I don’t need 5 of me on a team; that would get us nowhere. A great team needs a variety of personalities to help push them through the creative process: people who keep everyone excited about the job and bring the team together in conversation, people who know where that category is going and what the latest industry news is, and a person who makes the hard decisions to keep everything moving along. Those are just a few to keep in the mix, but the door should always be open to others.

3. We are all in it together.
One of the biggest issues that every team has to overcome is ego. Throw yours out! No one wants to deal with that on a team. Learn to listen to each other. Really listen. Think about what someone has said before you respond. No statement or idea is ever stupid (almost). Everyone should feel comfortable. When it comes to brainstorming and working on a project as a team, everyone needs to be able to throw ideas out there, no matter what they are. Anything can spark a great conversation, so everyone should feel included. But remember, you still need to be able to critique each other and voice your opinions. A clash of constructive opinions will only make a project stronger. Embrace them! It will only strengthen your work and your team.

Though there are deeper levels to search and refine when improving your team’s effectiveness, these are some of the things I think would be helpful to anyone trying to create effective teams and work. Maybe I’m wrong. We can all sit down and brainstorm a better solution at your earliest convenience.

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