4 Ideas to Motivate Your Team

2018-03-05T18:52:36+00:00February 6th, 2015|Productivity|

My friend Earnest once asked me, “Do you like basketball?”

I replied, “Only at the beginning and during the last few minutes of the game—anything else is a good time to clean the kitchen.”

He looked at me quizzically. I explained that when I record games I can fast forward to the good parts like seeing the coaches frantically drawing up plays with only seconds to go, hear the fans chanting “defense” and witnessing the teams’ will to win. Who would not be motivated by that?

I wish we could take that same spirit into the workplace. But for too long, the workplace has been synonymous with “no fun” for some of us. And if you belong to the “NFL” (No Fun League) in the workplace, I have to say: you are dragging your team down.

I have been fortunate to have been part of dynamic and fun teams throughout my career. It does not mean we are casual all day—it means we are part of a team who has a clear common goal: to provide the best space planning solutions for our clients. Having clear goals motivates us to remain focused and make sound decisions.

So the question is: how do you keep your team motivated? 

Here are 4 ideas that might help start to motivate your team.


Turnstone’s new Campfire line additions spur collaboration and help your team work in ways that best suit them.

1. Create a culture of helpfulness.

I recently read an article about IDEO from the Harvard business review. What struck me most about the article was this: “If you want your employees to keep finding ways to improve what they do, ways to serve your customers better, ways to more effectively execute your strategy, then you need them to be engaging in collaborative help. They should not only pitch in to balance one another’s workloads but also examine, challenge, build and refine one another’s ideas.”

I actually find this true. Collaborative help has brought me (a) motivation to push through a task (b) improved skills and (c) an increased support system amongst the team. Creating a helping culture can also sometimes weed out cliques in the office. It can motivate us to be an engaged member of a bigger network where everyone has an opportunity to provide expertise and demonstrate reliability and trust. While helping can sometimes be interpreted as disruptive, I believe if you are showing real interest in helping, you can expect great things.

2. Create a culture that respects privacy

Privacy has been many things to everyone. In the past, we talked about creating visual barriers with privacy desk screens and using semi-open spaces as oases from office chatter. But privacy is not just about being alone—it’s also about controlling the stimulation around you.

Though there are so many ways to remain connected in the office, remember that texting and instant messaging can be turned off or muted. In addition to controlling technology, disrupting conversations and loud meetings can affect someone’s workflow and concentration. Steelcase and turnstone research found that it takes 23 minutes to get back to the task you were working on. Control stimulation by providing zones for individual and group work. These open office spaces, often adjacent to work zones, provide an easy transition from concentrated work to going back to your pod. The ability to easily find adjacent silos can motivate people to finish tasks more quickly.

3. Create a learning and mentoring culture.

Why review your team at the end of the year when you can do so after large projects? In this way, the experience is fresh, the conversation is more casual and professionals can apply feedback before the next project. Having a continued dialogue can also motivate us to be improve and find ways to be more efficient. While annual reviews may benefit some, I find them to be ritualistic and formal. Whatever format your company follows, it should not hinder the team from talking about what’s been learned from a project.

Mentorship is another great tool in encouraging continued education within the company—but finding a mentor is like finding your soul mate. Choosing and working with your mentor has to be organic, not forced, because you will engage with this person on your own time. To make the relationship successful, there should be a level of comfort to freely express your thoughts and ideas, motivating us to improve our skills and widen our network.

4. Make it (almost) real

By definition, authentic is a term usually used in art which means “real.” But what does this mean in the workplace? Being authentic can be viewed as revealing personal information or professional details, managing in a genuine way or being yourself in the office. It’s certainly easier said than done, but research shows that authenticity at work is a key to wellbeing. In my opinion, authenticity is about showing continued effort in making improvements and establishing a learning culture that, despite the success, always makes room for growth.