Changing Your Relationship Status

As the service-minded design group that once was blossoms into a strategic superpower within your organization, you’ll find your team’s credibility growing—and your responsibilities tripling. What do you mean you can’t design an award-winning logo, lead an international conference call, present concepts at the next board meeting, interpret (and sometimes mind-read) feedback, provide constructive design criticism …all while jumping on a pogo-stick? Luckily, you’re not alone.

As in-house responsibilities grow, so does the amount of recognition in-house groups receive within organizations of all sizes. Position yourself and your team as a critical link in the success of the business and command respect. After all, we did sign up to be the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker—the question now is, how do we make it all work?

Last week’s blog focused on in-house teams earning respect within organizations. A large part of what helps us earn respect, build credibility, and ultimately success, stems from the relationships we build. Here are some additional tips to help you earn respect through interpersonal connections.

Cultivate relationships. Invest the time—early, often, and upfront. Every creative project is different and so are the partners with whom you’ll collaborate on a daily basis. As an in-house creative, you’re ultimately accountable to anyone and everyone. Early on, spend the time to invest in your relationships with business partners, clients, and colleagues who are helping to mold the vision for your creative work. Cultivate cross-functional partnerships as they can help guide design to be more focused, effective, and meaningful. Building relationships very early in the development process with key stakeholders drives toward a more compelling and well-rounded creative story that everyone can get behind.

Partner up. With all of the added responsibilities and pressures in today’s in-house atmosphere, you often need an external outlet. Locate and select a mentor. This professional-development partner can shed light into your creative world that never existed. Be selective, be thoughtful, and most importantly, be open. From a fresh perspective on everyday obstacles, to coaching during life’s great successes and unfortunate failures—having a mentor has limitless benefits.

Get schooled. Educate yourself and your team, and you will build credibility. Partner with internal and external resources to gain a firm understanding of the business needs. From internal gurus and established suppliers to knowledgeable strategists and even colleague you’ve never met—always bring in the experts. Take the time to understand the competitive landscape, build relationships, and apply your learnings to help mold your creative development. In the end, your designs will thank you.

We're continuing our conversation about Creativity this month at IHAF. Weigh in with your comments below, follow us on Twitter (@IHAForum) or better yet—join us for real.

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