Since the primary role of a creative team is to generate insights and programs that drive business growth, being fully present and motivated is critical to the success of every project. It also has a significant impact on company profitability. Rapt Media estimates that companies lose $500 billion annually due to disengaged employees. You can see why keeping your team members engaged is a must have project management skill.
Employee incentive programs that recognize effort and success have a proven history of inspiring employees to work harder and participate at a deeper level. After all, an engaged mind is an inspired mind. As a project manager, you must be proactive in offering opportunities that push your team members to excel and rewarding them when they succeed.
You do not need an elaborate plan or a big budget to recognize employees' contributions. Instead, focus on praising actions, approaches and willingness to take on new challenges. Additionally, by building these three programs into your team’s culture, you will have the necessary tools to produce an environment that promotes continual growth in creativity.
Recognize Accomplishments, Reward Collaborations
Employees who feel valued believe they have something worthwhile to contribute to a company. It is essential that team leaders regularly recognize individual contributions to group goals and celebrate victories together. Do not wait for formal ceremonies to hand out kudos. Instead, focus on small ways that you can personalize your appreciation, such as writing a sincere thank you note or posting an endorsement on LinkedIn. Giving out mini-gifts, such as movie passes or coffee cards, is a simple way to reward extra efforts.
The right praise at the right moment is also critical to maintaining a positive work environment. At team meetings, publicly acknowledge employees for going out of their way to solve a client’s problem or taking the initiative to dig up research. This approval shows that you pay attention and truly appreciate their efforts, which is often just the motivation that they need to do it again. One low-cost approach that is easy to implement is adding a brag board in a visible location where team members can post recent work that they are proud of. Toasting the completion of a big project during a team outing is another great way to show how much you value every contribution.
When considering ways to incentivize your team, you must walk a fine line between stimulating healthy competition that motivates employee collaboration and fostering a tense environment that stifles creativity. Individual recognition can zap team morale, particularly if the reward is conciliatory or based on popularity. Recognition programs should be designed to ensure that everyone feels fully valued for their ideas. Additionally, since the best creative ideas are generated from collaboration, consider offering incentives for joining team projects or contributing to company committees.
Encourage Professional Development
One of the most effective ways to ensure continual employee engagement is to invest in each team member’s professional development. Employees feel valued when you provide opportunities for personal growth because it encourages them to stretch toward their full potential. It is also a smart business strategy because your staff will come back inspired by the latest best practices, energized from building valuable relationships and excited to test out their new skills. This is a recipe that often produces creative breakthroughs.
Ideally, your department has a budget to support employees attending seminars, obtaining certifications or joining professional memberships. However, offering this incentive does not have to be an expensive endeavor. You can tap the expertise of in-house senior staff who have valuable insights to share or ask hobbyists to teach an advanced skill. Incorporate these mini-trainings into quarterly staff meetings, or host monthly brown bag learning lunches. There are also dozens of free self-directed learning programs online that employees can explore.
However, it is not enough to simply provide training. You must also construct a company culture that rewards initiative and interest in prof-dev opportunities. If you cannot cover or subsidize the cost, then consider offering a paycheck bonus, a gift card to a local restaurant or an extra day off. You could even make a charitable donation in the employee’s name. This not only supports a cause they deeply care about, but it can also be a tax deduction for your company.
Proactively Challenge Processes
Employees typically have numerous ideas about how to improve daily work life. However, when they are never asked their opinions or their suggestions are repeatedly dismissed, they are unmotivated to speak up. This leads to disengagement, which strangles innovative thinking. It also means that your company is missing critical opportunities that could strengthen processes, enhance client relationships and boost employee satisfaction.
Empower your creative team to contribute to the overall success of the company by frequently seeking their input. Once each month, ask for fresh ideas on how to achieve the next goal that you hope to accomplish. You should also provide employees with a regular platform to present fully developed proposals for improving business processes to their coworkers, who then vote on the strongest concepts.
You can take this idea to the next level by encouraging your team to question the company’s traditional assumptions and core beliefs. The Executive’s Guide to Sparking Creativity in Teams challenges teams to explore their deep-rooted beliefs to “jolt your brain out of the familiar.” By examining your organizational and industry orthodoxies, such as views about norms, strategy elements and essential models, you may just discover exciting new ways to transform the way you do things.