Bring out the best of your team with these 4 tips

“Delightful Experience, Delicious Food?

RING the Bell!”

That’s what the bell by the door read at an Arby’s I recently visited.  My first reaction was, “Ugh, another fast food chain gimmick,” but then, as someone was leaving the restaurant, they rang the bell. I immediately turned to the people working behind the counter and saw the smiles on their faces with this tiny, effortless act by a satisfied customer. As someone who works in the field of data insights, things I experience on a daily basis can trigger deep insights. This time, the bell at Arby’s got me thinking about the concept of corporate culture that centers around encouragement and empowerment. I started to think of all those times someone rang the bell for me and how it motivated me, giving me energy to do better next time. As I was going further down memory lane, it hit me that the moments of encouragement in my life have significantly decreased over the years. Especially as I began my working life. Maybe you can relate to a few traumatic experiences I remember where my bosses shattered my self-confidence into pieces. I was fresh out of school and got a job in new business development where my role was to prepare business cases. A big responsibility for a newbie, so I often worked late. One night, I was alone at the office and getting ready for the presentation the next day when I realized a great opportunity in the financials to increase profitability. Next day, I was so happy and proud of myself. My boss at the time was a woman who had more than 10 years of experience in the field and was managing a big team in the marketing department. I began walking my boss through my findings, and her words to me were, “Don’t you ever use your creativity and judgement again. Just do what I say.” It sounds like a dramatic response to an employee, but I have been through similar incidences with other managers, as well. It is almost a part of the corporate culture; learned and accepted behavior. However, I do admit that I have acted in a similar way when I was managing a team. We are all measured on our results more than how we motivate people or encourage them. If we get the work done, we get our bonuses, right?

Under so much performance pressure, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that people create, run and grow businesses, rather than machines, strategies or technological advancements. Everything we see around us is a creation of a human mind. Every time we tear down people’s ideas, we are building yet another road block limiting creativity.  Our work at The Green Room Collective spans different types of companies with varying working cultures. I see how those road blocks in most corporate cultures, regardless of industry or country. During our Green Room Sessions, when we ask people if they think they are creative, we only see a few hands go up. Everyone is so shy, and too timid to share their ideas. I can see from their eyes the similar feelings I had when my boss told me not to use creativity and judgment. We have all had our share of these incidences, and of course , each time, we promise ourselves not to be vulnerable and risk having our ideas getting torn down. Is this a damage that cannot be undone? If people are our biggest asset, how can we turn this around? How can we change the corporate culture to create work environments where everyone focuses on motivating each other and applies a more nurturing approach?

As TGRC, our main role in creative sessions is to create a nurturing, encouraging work environment. Hindsight is 20/20, and I wish I knew what I know now on motivating and encouraging  people while I was leading teams back in the day. That’s why, I feel it’s important to share a few tips and tactics that can help you have the same impact of “ringing the bell” for your team members.

Tame the caveman: When someone shares an idea with me for the first time, my instinctive reaction is to try to form a perspective or a judgement around it. I’m saying “instinctive” to help you imagine our ancestors who faced animals in the wild: They needed to decide whether they were in danger immediately to survive. They didn’t have the luxury of observing, listening to and experimenting like we do in the workplace. It’s important to embrace the fact that we resort to our inner caveman, especially in stressful situations. Counting to 10 when we are presented with a new idea or experience is a simple way to stop ourselves from saying anything judgmental. The next step is to repeat the idea using our own words. This achieves two things: We signal to the person presenting to idea that we have listened and recognized their work. And they feel heard and become motivated to share more with us.

Love & Build: When I worked I the corporate worked, in business strategy meetings, I remember feeling like a criminal sitting in the defendant’s seat, ready to answer all the allegations against my ideas by senior management. Senior managers are assets to any company, as they are more experienced than many in the organization. The common understanding is that their role is to “critically analyze and judge.” This is the mindset that creates headaches and butterflies for every presenter. What if senior management saw their role as contributors, as builders? How would that change the environment and the outcome of these meetings? In our Green Room sessions, we signal to the managers that their role is to share all the things they love about what they hear and constructively build on it to help the team succeed. We call it the LOVE & BUILD session. Our experience is that senior management enjoys this role more and the team feels a sense of recognition and accomplishment even if they leave the floor with a lot of next steps and revisions to their plans. This technique is, of course, different than the feedback model where you first start with the positive before listing the negatives. It is simply a shift in mindset.

“Thank You” Post-Its: We have become experts in social media. It is in our nature to give thumbs up when we LIKE or approve of something. And our innate need for recognition from our peers is the reason why getting a lot of likes on our posts is important to us. We are no different in the workplace. One of the exercises we do in some of our capability sessions is to distribute Thank You Post-Its to everyone and ask them to write down a nice thing that they noticed about the people around them. Starting with, “I love that …” I have kept all the notes written to me, even those from 10 years ago. They mean a lot.

Ring the bell: In some companies when the team hits a sales target, they ring the bell in the office. You can simply buy that bell for your office. Why not? Again, that simple.

These are only a few things you can use to nurture, show appreciation, give recognition, and encourage more creativity in our teams. Still, if there is a will, there is a way. It is not the method that matters but the intention. If you have a “delightful experience” during your day at work, just make sure you RING THE BELL. It’ll mean the world to the people around you, and is a sure way to up motivation and morale.