What It Takes to Be a Great Creative Project Manager


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A creative project manager confronts many unique challenges. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, presents the skills you need when managing creatives, so you can go from good to great. (This creative project management software can help too!)

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!

skills of a creative project manager

In Review – What It Takes to Be a Great Creative Project Manager

Jennifer began by saying that leading any team requires a great deal of both self-awareness and an awareness of others working with you. However, when working with a creative team, project managers must take a greater step. That’s because a project manager in this case needs to think not only of the project but the bigger picture of deliverables without losing sight of the daily details and the schedule.

Challenges of a Creative Project Manager

  1. When working with creatives, the deliverables aren’t widgets; they’re creative expressions. Therefore, your team will likely be more wedded to the product of their work than others might be. Being sensitive, especially when criticizing, is crucial when managing creative teams.
  2. Define the product. A creative project, or for that matter any project that is vague, is always going to be challenging. Make sure the product is clearly defined to keep everyone focused.
  3. Deadlines matter, so make sure that they’re firm and clearly communicated. Being creative doesn’t mean the work can go on forever; often restraints force more creative solutions.
  4. Roles can also be challenging, in that creative roles can be varied and even overlapping, so it’s something that must be given a close look.
  5. Creative personalities can be like other project team members, only taken to extremes. Some are too detail-oriented, while others aren’t detailed enough, so be aware of the people on the team.
  6. Finally, there’s project scope, which can be impacted by creative team members who have their own interpretation of what the project scope is.

What Skills Does a Creative Project Manager Need?

To recap, Jennifer went over the skills of any successful creative project manager:

  1. Be self-aware and aware of others.
  2. Have a view of the big picture and the details that make it up.
  3. Have prior experience with creatives, ideally.
  4. Have integrity and be honest.
  5. Excel at communications.
  6. Be inspirational in order to motivate the team.
  7. Have the ability to resolve conflicts peacefully and productively.
  8. Be flexible and have the agility to adapt when changes come.

How to Go from Good to Great as a Creative Project Manager

The great creative project manager is made up of part creative, part manager, a combination that produces results. But beyond the details and the tasks inherent in running any product, emotional intelligence is key. Clear and effective communication is also key, more so than just reporting on the status.

Three Keys to Becoming a Great Creative Project Manager

Jennifer boiled down the pathway toward success as a creative project manager to the following:

  1. Be empathetic
  2. Communicate
  3. Have the right tools

Pro-Tip: To foster the creative side of your skillset, it can help to work towards mastering creative thinking. That involves being curious and giving yourself downtime to recharge and contemplate but don’t avoid pressure. That’s often a great motivator.

Thanks for watching!


Today, we’re talking about what it takes to be a great creative project manager. In today’s whiteboard session, I want to talk about a few challenges, some skills, and how to get from good to great.

First of all, any project leading any team requires a high level of awareness of self and others. But working with creatives takes even more. Here’s why:

Number one, you’re working with the big picture of not only the project but also the deliverables of the creatives. You’re managing the daily details of each and ensuring that you get it from start to finish on time. Here are a few challenges.

Number one, when you’re working with creatives, their deliverables are like their creative expressions. So when you provide input or feedback, you have to be very sensitive. Number two is project definition. Many creative projects can sometimes be vague and change quite often. Also, the deadlines are firm deadlines so there’s not a lot of room to move them.

Number four, the roles. In creative projects, there are typically different types of creatives doing different types of work on the project. Understanding how to work with different types of deliverables and their personalities is important. Some creatives can be too detail oriented and on the opposite extreme, they may have not enough details.

Number six is the scope. Sometimes, with the creative, they can have their own interpretation of the scope, and many times they try to goal play what they’re doing.

Let’s look at some skills. Number one, again, is awareness of self and others. Number two, the big picture, plus managing the details. Number three is having experience with creatives. Number four, having integrity and honesty in what you’re saying about the team, the project, the deliverables, or any other issues.

Number five is communication. Remembering there are different types of communication styles for different types of people on your team. Number six is being able to inspire and motivate creatives with many different personalities. Also, related to that, is managing the conflict that’s normally going to arise. Eight is having flexibility, adaptability and agility.

What does it take to get from good to great? Well, it’s part creative, part manager, managing the overall big picture as well as the day-to-day details and all results, ensuring that you’re getting the results on time, within budget and according to the scope.

Beyond details in tasks, emotions are everything with creatives. Also beyond status report, communication still matters, ensuring, again, that you’re following and considering different communication styles.

Here are three critical keys. Number one is empathy. With any kind of team members, creatives, they’re all… team members are human so when you’re dealing with them, providing feedback and communications, remember empathy. Number two, again communication styles and number three, ensuring that your tools are up to date and relative to the type of project you’re doing.

If you need a tool that can help you with your creative project, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.

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