David Berman Communications
David Berman will help you repeat your successes

Successful Management of Creative Professionals

November 14, 2003 Winnipeg, MB ACI Manitoba

*Discount packages for non-profits, and travel subsidies available. Additional discounts available for groups over three people. If you refer at least four registrants to one of our courses, we’ll give you a complimentary registration to a course of your choice. Call (613) 728-6777 for details.

All prices, offerings, and dates subject to change without notice.

To register for a course given by our own organization, register online or call (613) 728-6777.

Event Schedule (all events)

Course Description

It is easy to assume that the most successful creative organizations are those with the most recognizable style or the most amazingly artistic portfolio of achievements. However, in truth, the firms that are able to deliver quality results year in and year out, succeed financially, with folk who regularly rest on weekends are the ones who successfully build a loyal, energized, interdependent team. These organizations are typically the ones which recognize that their greatest asset is their people.

This course provides a toolbox of effective personnel management practices and procedures to help organizations who produce creative results get the most out of their staff with the least amount of distraction. Take this course to learn proven techniques for getting performance problems off your desk so that you can focus on proactively building a team of loyal, motivated, high-performing, low-maintenance people. Our process addresses “human resource” management issues specific to creative personnel (and the people who support them) working under tight deadlines. You will become more valuable to your organization by equipping yourself with step-by-step approaches to build a fair, interactive and humane compensation system which will make your firm the place where the best people available will be lining up to work and stay for a long time. Each participant will receive a free, comprehensive manual of the material covered that is approximately 75 pages long.

“Knowledgeable and entertaining … all parts were excellent.”

– Guy Regnier, Deschenes Regnier
Calgary AB

What’s Wrong

The largest expense every creative organization has is its people. Yet, management will typically spend far more time researching the purchase of a $10,000 piece of equipment than they will a salaried team member costing 5 times as much every year. Most agencies recognize that the creativity of their people is their greatest asset. However, such organizations are not typically run by Harvard business grads: they are usually managed by professionals with no formal training in managing people effectively. The problem is further complicated by the special needs involved in motivating creative people who have to come up with wonderful ideas under crazy deadlines and with technology that doesn’t always cooperate.

Most managers know their field inside out, but hit a wall when it comes to effectively managing and supervising their team. Professionals who rise to roles as team leaders do not magically gain supervisory skills: they usually have to learn a series of expensive, disappointing lessons before getting a handle on how to keep everyone productive and happy.

“Superb. Thorough. I am motivated!”

– Dave Champion-Taylor, Guppy Design
Winnipeg MB

What Makes This Course Unique

There are many human resource management courses and specialists out there. However, this is the only course we know of tailored to helping creative organizations get the most out of their professional staff without having to have a dedicated human resources professional on payroll to make it happen. This course focuses on practical, proven methods to gain a handle on your situation, avoid problems before they arise, and turn every employee problem into an opportunity to build a stronger staff. The approaches you will learn includes tools you can start using right away, stated in simple language that both employers and employees can understand and implement enjoyably.

With the proper practices in place, your staff can grow professionally while contributing to the success of your organization in the long term – both are important in keeping the best people in a competitive market.

“A great job. Knowing print, electronic and production is not often found in one individual.”

-Terry Andryo, Palliser
Winnipeg MB

What You Will Learn

This course will provide a toolbox of skills to manage and nurture a group of creative individuals into an interdependent team. We dwell upon the importance of ensuring your people are clear on their roles, receive positive reinforcement and proactive course correction as you navigate together toward a strong, long-term win-win alignment of personal and corporate missions. You will know when they meet their objectives, and what to do when they don’t. Specifically, you will learn:

  • Tips on assembling a team of creative people that you will be thrilled to have around for a long time
  • Developing compensation plans that encourage the outcomes you want
  • How to come up with performance measurements that everyone can understand
  • How to develop workable employment policies
  • How to develop effective employee manuals and standard operating procedures
  • How to develop an effective system of employment agreements and job descriptions that doesn’t get out of date
  • When and how to prepare and run effective performance reviews
  • How to deal with extraordinary situations and terminations
  • The benefits of a more formal system for managing people
  • How to avoid the evaporation of corporate knowledge
  • How to orient and immerse new staff more quickly and effectively
  • How to build a stronger organization by helping to build careers
  • How to avoid pitfalls before they develop

“I retained a lot of great insight and information. David has good techniques to help motivate personnel.”

– Pierre Lenoine, Taylor George
Winnipeg MB

s of Attending

Increase your value and reduce your stress level by seizing on the potential of managing staff more cohesively and effectively, with less turnover and surprises and more room for innovation, creativity, and effective knowledge management.

Benefits to your Organization

  • Reduce the frequency and cost of hiring and retaining great people
  • Reduce your organization’s vulnerability to loss of key players and their knowledge
  • Gain effective business tools that improve your profitability
  • Enjoy a stronger team, with higher morale and more clearly defined roles, eager and capable to take on the next assignment
  • Improve communication
  • Enhance employee performance through more effective compensation plans
  • Create a fair environment with clearly defined duties, authorities and responsibilities
  • Better utilize and develop the team you have
  • Acquire nimbler, more sustainable, lower-risk business models and processes
  • Have a staff that spends more time thinking about client problems, and less time worrying about whether they are being treated fairly and consistently
  • Become known as an employer of choice in your community
  • Create a more pleasant place to work (for everyone!)
  • Enjoy a stronger team, with higher morale, eager and rested for the next project


At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Hire more effectively
  • Establish a system of job descriptions and employment agreements
  • Conduct useful, enjoyable, motivational performance reviews
  • Establish a preparation checklist for the arrival of a new team member
  • Establish an employee manual
  • Develop standard operating procedures
  • Plan an effective and clear compensation plan
  • Better estimate the “total cost of employment”
  • Spend less time managing employee crises
  • Cope more effectively with unexpected loss of staff
  • Continuously improve your processes
  • Feel more confident and comfortable with your roles and responsibilities


Some experience in having had stressful, challenging episodes with supervising staff will help you more fully benefit from the course.

About the Expert Speaker

Since 1989, David Berman’s firm has developed and implemented management information software and systems to help creative firms work more effectively. His systems and advice are in place in dozens of creative firms around the world.

David’s exposure to people and performance issues has been through his day to day experience managing human resources at David Berman Typographics and Herrera Berman Communications. He has provided strategic and practical work for the human resource branches of Industry Canada and the National Research Council. He has also worked with Human Resources Development Canada, the Canadian Labour Force Development Board, and the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum. Private sector clients include Rockhurst Careers Group, CareerQuest and a variety of design and publishing industry organizations.

David Berman, has more than 20 years of experience in graphic design and communications. He has worked extensively in the adaptation of printed materials for electronic distribution, including Web design and software interface development. As graphic designer, communications strategist and type director, David concentrated on new media, information design, advertising creative, and marketing strategy at Herrera Berman Communications Inc, among Ottawa’s most experienced design agencies.

David brings both graphic design and information technology expertise to his design work. As early as high school, he created and produced a magazine which was distributed in four countries. While training at the University of Waterloo in computer science and at Carleton University in psychology and typography, he became deeply involved with the student press, introducing microcomputers for the first time to the production of student newspapers in Canada. David also worked in the federal government as a computer systems analyst before turning his hobby of graphic design into his career.

He served as the first elected president of the Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario, the world’s first accredited graphic design organization, from 1997 to 1999. He drafted the association’s constitution and Rules of Professional Conduct and authored Ontario’s accreditation examination on ethics and professional responsibility. In 1999, he was named a fellow to the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, the second youngest in Canadian history. Presently, he is vice-president/ethics of the society. David has recently become a National Professional Member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS). David has been featured in the Financial Post, Marketing, and Applied Arts magazines.

Who Should Attend

This course is intended for all principals, business managers, supervisors and executives who are involved in hiring or supervising a creative team. The course is targeted to those familiar with the industry that have no formal training in human resource management, as well as HR professionals who are not familiar with the creative industry.

  • People who own, manage or supervise within creative organizations or creative departments (designers, public relations professionals, Web developers, software developers, architects, arts organizations…)
  • People who wish to direct others creatively
  • People who coordinate people who deliver creative projects
  • People who manage the finances of organizations that develop creative projects



  • The Value in Focusing on Managing Creative Personnel
  • Benefits of formal process in general
  • The system: overview


  • Choosing carefully
  • Crafting careers rather than filling jobs
  • Profiling
  • Searching steps
  • Testing
  • Friends and peers
  • Using the Internet


  • Salary
  • Bonus compensation that motivates
  • Profit-sharing
  • Finding win-wins
  • Giving more for less by considering tax regulations
  • Benefits and how to structure them
  • Insurance gotchas
  • Holidays
  • Reimbursements


  • Group measurement vs. individual measurement
  • Bonus = Personal compensation plan (incentive + commissions) + profit-sharing
  • Quantifying performance when quantification seems impossi
  • Key results areas: rewarding the actions you want
  • Employee participation in developing measurements and scales

Staff Manuals

  • Benefits of an employee manual
  • The value of articulating the details
  • Benefits of an intranet-based employee manual
  • Components of an excellent employee manual
  • Considering standard operating procedures
  • Employee manual development tips

Job Descriptions and Employment Agreements

  • Why two documents for each person
  • Job description components
  • Employment agreement components
  • Keeping them fresh and accurate
  • Confidentiality and intellectual property


  • Importance to morale and efficiency
  • The value of an orientation checklist
  • Candidates for your orientation checklist
  • HR issues
  • Marketing issues
  • Technology setup
  • Security
  • “Song sheets”

Performance Review

  • Benefits of a formal review process
  • Individual performance and feedback loops
  • Planning and preparation
  • Running effective reviews
  • Reviewing both employee and employer
  • Maintaining job descriptions
  • Setting clear, measurable expectations
  • Group performance and feedback loops

Special Situations

  • Corrective action
  • Chronic poor performance
  • Creative firm motivation problems
  • Termination (and maintaining morale throughout)

Language: English

Duration: 1 Day

This course is also available customized and on-site for your organization. Please ask for more details.


If you would like to be notified via e-mail of when new instances of this course are scheduled, fill out a form to subscribe to our Events E-Newsletter.

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Reviewed August 3, 2011

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