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Building, Managing, and Growing a Creative Team: Insights from Peter Mendez 

By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday May 28, 2024

Updated : Monday May 27, 2024

Why does building a creative team feel like orchestrating a symphony? Each member plays a unique part, yet they must harmonize perfectly. As Co-founder and Experience Director of Crafted, I’ve navigated these waters. Here, I’ll share insights from my journey, outlining key aspects of assembling and nurturing a creative team.  

The Foundation: Building Your Team 

Building a strong team is akin to laying the foundation for a magnificent building. It’s about getting the right mix of skills, attitudes, and visions to create something enduring and impactful. Let’s take a look at the intricacies of assembling a team that’s not just skilled but also aligned with the core values of your organization. 

Select the Right Players 

In the pursuit of talent, it’s crucial to look beyond the obvious. Yes, technical skills are important, but what about the person behind those skills? At Crafted, we delve into what makes a designer tick. Is it a relentless pursuit of perfection, a drive to innovate, or a passion for storytelling through design? Understanding a candidate’s intrinsic motivation is key. This insight helps us identify individuals who are not just capable but also passionate and resilient. It’s about finding those who see design not as a job, but as a calling. 

“The Talent Fix” by Tim Sackett offers valuable insights into this recruitment philosophy. Sackett emphasizes the importance of proactively seeking out talent, rather than waiting for it to come to you. He suggests using innovative methods to uncover hidden gems in the talent pool. In addition, Sackett highlights the significance of creating a strong employer brand that resonates with your desired talent demographic.  

These strategies align seamlessly with our ethos at Crafted. Furthermore, for effective talent scouting, platforms like ZipRecruiter provide an expansive network to discover diverse and talented individuals. These tools help us broaden our reach and connect with potential team members who embody the spirit and skill we value. 

Foster Diversity and Inclusion 

Imagine a palette with only one color. No matter how vibrant, it limits the artist’s expression. Similarly, a homogeneous team limits creative potential. At Crafted, we strive for a team as diverse as our clientele. This means going beyond ticking boxes for diversity quotas. It’s about curating a team with varied life experiences, professional backgrounds, and thought processes. This diversity fosters a culture of open-mindedness and creative problem-solving, where unique perspectives are not just heard but celebrated. 

How to bring DEI to Group Benefits – and Why You Should

The Dynamics: Managing the Creative Chaos 

Managing a creative team is an art in itself. It’s about balancing structure with the freedom to explore and innovate. Let’s delve into how effective leadership coaching and communication can turn a group of talented individuals into a cohesive, high-performing team. 

Lead with Vision and Flexibility 

Effective leadership in a creative environment is about setting a clear vision while allowing enough flexibility for creative exploration. It’s like being a lighthouse – providing guidance and direction, yet giving the team the space to navigate their paths. At my agency, we practice a leadership style that empowers our team members. We set the goals and parameters, but within those boundaries, we encourage our team to experiment, take risks, and challenge the status quo. This approach not only fosters creativity but also instills a sense of ownership and responsibility in the team. 

Communication: The Heartbeat of Teamwork 

In the realm of creative teamwork, communication is the glue that binds everything together. It’s not just about articulating project briefs or deadlines; it’s about creating an environment where ideas flow freely and feedback is constructive. My creative team has established communication channels that encourage open and honest dialogue. Regular team meetings, one-on-ones, and informal catch-ups are integral to our workflow. These interactions help us understand each team member’s perspective, address concerns proactively, and foster a culture of mutual respect and collaboration. 

To further enhance our communication, we utilize various digital tools that cater to different aspects of teamwork. Tools like Trello and Asana are invaluable for project management, allowing us to track progress, delegate tasks, and manage deadlines effectively. For day-to-day communication, platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams offer a space for instant messaging, file sharing, and quick discussions. These tools help in maintaining a clear and continuous line of communication, ensuring everyone is on the same page.  

Additionally, the use of meeting agendas has proven to be a game-changer. They provide structure to our discussions, ensuring efficiency and focus. Microsoft offers a range of meeting agenda templates. These templates are a great resource for organizing meetings that are more productive and goal-oriented. With these tools and practices in place, our team’s communication remains the heartbeat of our effective collaboration. 

Growth: Cultivating a Thriving Environment 

A team’s growth is a continuous journey. It’s about consistently pushing the boundaries of creativity and skill. Let’s explore how continuous learning and the recognition of individual talents contribute to the growth of both the team and its members. 

Foster Continuous Learning and Development 

In the fast-paced world of design, stagnation is the enemy of innovation. That’s why at Crafted, we champion a culture of continuous learning. We encourage our team to engage in professional development opportunities – whether it’s attending industry conferences, participating in online courses, or experimenting with new design tools and techniques. This ongoing learning process ensures that our team stays ahead of the curve, constantly bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to the table. 

To facilitate this, we actively promote attendance at key industry events.  By investing in educational resources, we ensure that our creative team is equipped with the latest knowledge and skills, fostering a work environment that values growth and creativity. This commitment to continuous learning and development is integral to maintaining our position as a leader in the design industry, continually pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. 

7 Benefits of Employee Professional Development

Recognize and Nurture Talent 

Every team member brings a unique set of skills and perspectives to the table. Recognizing and nurturing this individual talent is crucial for fostering a culture of excellence and innovation. That’s why Crafted believes in providing our team with opportunities to shine. This means identifying their strengths and interests and offering them projects that challenge and excite them. We also emphasize regular constructive feedback and recognition, celebrating both individual achievements and team successes. This approach not only boosts morale but also encourages a sense of belonging and loyalty among the team members. 

8 Employee Recognition Ideas for a Positive Employee Experience

The Symphony Continues 

Building, managing, and growing a creative team is an ongoing symphony. It’s about creating harmony between diverse talents, leading with vision and empathy, and fostering an environment of continuous growth. As you embark on this journey, remember, the strength of a team lies not just in the sum of its parts, but in the way those parts come together to create something extraordinary. 


Peter Mendez is the Co-founder and Experience Director at Crafted, a renowned digital creative agency based in NYC. With over two decades of experience in the industry, his expertise spans from leading renowned agencies like BBDO NY and Saatchi + Saatchi to spearheading innovative projects for clients such as BMW and Gillette. Recognized on global platforms like Cannes and D&AD for his creative excellence, Peter combines his passion for design with a commitment to mentorship and team development.