Being the head of a creative team is incredibly rewarding. It requires you to be a protector and a facilitator for your team, removing obstacles and cultivating openness so great ideas have space to flourish. It also requires flexibility to play different roles throughout a project lifecycle. Sometimes you play the hype-man for the project. Sometimes your role is simply to get out of the way and let your amazing team of designers get after it. And then sometimes it is helping them see the greatness in what they just did.
One thing I know is that the combination of skill, knowledge, and energetic scrappiness of a motivated team can do amazing things. Here are some items I have found helpful for motivating my team.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 you in the past? Do you have other tips to motivate your creative team? If so, please share them with me!