schneider + partners has over 25 years of experience helping creative and project based organisations to be even more successful in running their organisations and achieving their goals. This series of tips and supporting notes reflects some of the main issues that we have seen. Some are surprisingly elemental:
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How often do you come across an organisation that feels like it must be a really great place to work? When you do, you really feel the energy and the buzz. In a creative service organisation people are the main resource, so keeping the team energised and positively motivated should be a management priority. Yet often organisations fail to achieve this.
Are there some simple guidelines? In practice, what is required is likely to vary depending on the team. There may be a need to distinguish different types of staff, recognising the diverse factors that may motivate each. Some (e.g., certain architects) may be primarily driven by the intrinsic nature of the work that they are doing; others may have higher financial barriers to cross (e.g., with mortgages or school fees to pay, or retirement to consider); and some may have higher or lower needs for structure. However, the following four tips should be borne in mind for many creative organisations.
Listen to what your team has to say: they may surprise you in terms of how well they understand exactly what needs to be done. Consider undertaking confidential staff surveys using someone independent from the organisation. Take time to talk on a one to one basis. Try to understand what delights and what frustrates them, what motivates and what de-energises. As with clients, the very process of taking time to listen tells them that you care. And involve them in the process. Professional staff tend to respond much better to feeling that they are being consulted rather than just told, especially when important changes are pending.
2. Positively challenge
Help staff to keep developing. Professionals such as architects, designers, engineers and creatives generally, tend to be driven by the work that they do, so a key motivational factor can be ensuring that they remain positively challenged in their work, continuing to learn new things. Bored staff may be amongst those most prone to being attracted by the offer of better opportunities and financial rewards elsewhere.
3. Recognise and reward
Thanks are probably the cheapest and most underused of all the resources available to managers. Professional staff typically respond well to recognition that genuinely acknowledges the energies and effort they have put in or a job well done. This may take the form of praise, genuinely expressed appreciation, a treat, a change of status / promotion, being 'publicly' acclaimed, given special status (for example being asked to represent the firm at a conference) or offered the opportunity to take a challenging role on a special project. There is a lot written regarding the relative merits of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and rewards - and also to the distinction between motivators and hygiene factors. But a key underlying element, is recognising what drives the individual - understanding their particular goals and needs.
4. Keep it invigorating and fun.
The challenge is to make your organisation a place where staff want to come every day. A focus on staff wellbeing is vital, but that may mean different things to different people. Activities that genuinely assist the team in their professional development whilst making it an enjoyable experience are likely to be the priority. But whereas 'fun' for some may mean a Friday social in the pub; for others it may be a golf day; and for others, visits to see stimulating events, experiences, architecture or whatever. One approach is to encourage the team to develop their own agenda of activities. But a systematic approach is also likely to embrace a consideration of the work environment and the development of an appropriate culture. One client had a weekly ritual where one member of the team cooked lunch for the rest. Other firms place emphasis on using food and wine as a celebration of 'wins' - or even as unexpected treats.
Work can be a serious business and the practice, for example, of architecture or engineering is not a joke. Keeping it fun needs to be taken seriously.
Keep work fun, seriously