Several years ago, I believed I was ready to take the next step in my career. I had achieved the role of Treasurer at my last company but I was ready for something more. While I was there, we merged with another company and I was traveling back and forth to both offices as Treasurer of both companies. Unfortunately, and as I had anticipated, senior management wanted me to move to where the other company was located, and I declined. So, with a strange twist of events, I found myself unemployed. Related: 3 Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Job Search Right as I was leaving my company, a recruiter contacted me saying they were conducting a search for a company in need of a Treasurer. And with my industry experience, there was no doubt it was a perfect match. I met the recruiter, he believed I was right for the job, and he submitted my resume. After three weeks with no response, I contacted the recruiter and he told me the company hired the first person they interviewed! I was astounded! I thought “That can’t be. I am a perfect match for that job! I have excellent Treasurer experience and I have worked at major companies in their industry. This just isn’t right.” Every day, I lamented the fact that I had not been given an opportunity to interview for that position. Finally, three months later, still lamenting the lost opportunity, my computer hard drive crashed rendering it unsalvageable. Also, not one interview, phone call, referral, or response to a resume submission came my way during those three months. Life has a funny way of making a point to us. This was a clear message to forget about the past. I immediately started laughing knowing the message. Therefore, the next day I put the past behind me and re-focused on my networking. Later that week, while meeting with a new connection, I was referred to a particular recruiter. My contact highly recommended I call her. I called her the next day and she answered (that was a good sign!). She told me my background was perfect for a job opening they just received looking for a Treasurer. But there is much more to this story. As I mentioned, I really was looking for the next step in my career, and wanted more than just a Treasurer role. She informed me that this person would also head up Investor Relations, thereby making this a very strategic role. I would be continually working with the CFO, CEO, and senior management because of these two responsibilities. I landed that job. Within three months, I was given additional responsibility: Budgeting, Planning, and then Public Relations. The job was exactly what I had my heart set on. Looking back, it was a massive mistake to be looking back. What I learned was:
Everyone needs to feel their voice is heard and their contributions are important. Something as simple as sharing a drink the last hour of the day on a Friday with the team to recap wins and give praise can build camaraderie within the team.
All of the above are fairly simple to implement but can make a huge difference in morale and motivation. Have any of these tips worked well for young the past? Do you have other tips to motivate your creative team? If so, please share them with me!
Encourage curiosity. Spark debate. Stimulate creativity and your team will be better at handling challenges with flexibility and resourcefulness. Create a safe space for ideas, all ideas, to be heard. In ideation, we need the weird and off-the-wall ideas to spur us on to push through to the great ideas.
Sure, there are a ton of studies done on this, but here is my very unscientific personal take. When team members can make decisions about how they work on projects, they are more engaged and connected to the project outcome. When they see how potentially dropping the ball would affect the entire team, they step up. When they feel like what they are doing is impactful and valued, they are naturally motivated to learn more, and be even better team members.
Rarely does a one-size-fits-all style work when it comes to team motivation. I have found that aligning employee goals with organization goals works well. Taking time to get to know everyone on your team is invaluable. What parts of their job do they love? What do they not enjoy? What skills do they want to learn? Even going so far as to where they see themselves in five years career-wise. These questions help you right-fit projects, and help your team see you are committed to creating a career path for them within the company.
Most designers I know love a good challenge. We are problem solvers by nature. Consistently give yourself and your team small challenges, both design-related and not. It will promote openness within the team to collaborate, and it will help generate ideas faster in the long run. Whether the challenge is to find a more exciting way to present an idea to stakeholders or fitting a new tool into the budget, make it a challenge just to shake things up.