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  • Akhil Ashokan

Are we listening?


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We hear a lot about the creative industry and the looming mental health problem that everyone ignores. We see policy changes - people moved to 4 working days, Mental Health leaves, and more that sounds wonderful on paper. It still does not solve the core problem. Recently, we worked with an upcoming mental health app and learned that Mental well-being is beyond just stress management.


After diving into this topic with my colleagues, friends and reflecting on experiences at Strobe works, I realized the core problem lies in - The mismatch of individual creative processes & the corporate structure.


Let's realize that the typical corporate structure & expectation is not a fit for the creative industry - both internally & externally. Everybody understands 'Manufacturing lead time, but few understand 'Creative lead time'. In a structure bound by deadlines & productivity metrics - statements such as “Not in the flow”, “You can’t force creativity” make little sense to clients, and similarly, statements such as “I need a new campaign tomorrow”, “Can I have another option?” don’t make sense to the creative team. We deal with a qualitative element in a structure built for quantitative. It is not the client's fault, nor ours - it is a misfit of structural processes.



Here are a few ways to deal with this problem -


Uplift the image of the agency and your team -

Deliver crazy campaigns, provide extended support, be there for your client, but not at the cost of your team. Sometimes, a lack of processes on the client-end disturbs your team's mental health.


It will take us a lot of time to change the structure; but here is a quick fix: Lift your image in the eyes of the customer - the day the client looks at you as a partner and not an agency, there are lesser unrealistic demands, better accountability, and less pressure on the creative team forcing rework, burn the midnight oil, or be in a stressful environment regularly.


Balancing the pressure along the way

I feel this is one important skill that we agencies need to learn - Absorbing pressure along the way so that it doesn’t end up concentrating on one or a handful of individuals. Be smart about how the information flows within the team; break the negative feedback at the top, and deliver it constructively where accountability & pressure gets absorbed along the way.


Talking & Listening

Admit that we are in the creative field. As individuals, we usually dip into our emotions to bring out our best work, and from time to time, we need to replenish our source.


Create an environment within the team to focus on productivity and psychological safety. Let everyone talk, be empathetic, and listen to early signs (an idea beautifully described by Charles Duhigg).

We hear a lot about the creative industry and the looming mental health problem that everyone ignores. We see policy changes - people moved to 4 working days, Mental Health leaves, and more that sounds wonderful on paper. It still does not solve the core problem. Recently, we worked with an upcoming mental health app and learned that Mental well-being is beyond just stress management.


Appreciation

In a world dictated by “success” posts on LinkedIn and creative appreciations by “Samosas”, we need to create a culture of internal appreciation. A campaign might not go viral, but if it had the elements of teamwork and collective excitement, appreciate the journey and remember that we came into this industry for the excitement of letting our ideas come to life distinctly.


It’s time we move beyond policies that make us look cool and bring in more substance to how we operate to take care of our most important assets - the minds.



-Shiva Sharan, Creative Head & CEO at Strobe Works

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