Lucid Leadership

5 Ways to Improve Team Performance, Creativity and Trust

by Isadora Godley

More than ever before, companies are finding the need to become more agile in order to keep pace with technological shifts and changes in consumer behavior. As a manager of creative teams for the Haworth global brand, I’ve learned valuable lessons in fostering a culture that motivates team members to push boundaries of what is possible for Haworth.

Here are five areas we prioritize to improve team performance, creativity and trust:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Community and collaboration
  3. Technology and tools
  4. Personal growth
  5. Rewarding great work


Admittedly, my work-life balance is not balanced. It’s intertwined, and I’m constantly being pulled in multiple directions.

(Full disclosure: I actually prefer things this way. I’m a little different, in that I find that I’m most productive when my capacity is at about 9 out of 10.)

As a self-professed workaholic, wife, and mother, I realize that for this to work, I need the understanding and support of those that surround me. I’ve found the only way that happens is if you’re providing that same support to them.

My team knows who I am. They get the same Isadora at work as they would elsewhere. I talk about my weekend and ask about theirs. I know their kids by name—and we discuss the things that are important to them. This may seem like a basic concept, but so often people neglect to embrace what makes us who we are.

Are you saying hello? Are you asking about the concert they went to? Their vacations? Putting yourself in their shoes will build understanding, creating a mutual feeling of trust.

Community and Collaboration

One way we create a feeling of community on our team is eating lunch together. Not every day, but whenever possible. Getting up from our desks and taking the time to separate ourselves from the daily grind, if only for an hour. We vent, tell jokes…even stretch. On hot summer days, we occasionally make a “Captain Sundae” ice cream run.

This builds relationships, which increases the team’s ability to generate breakthrough ideas and great work. When my team members share that they are coaching soccer, crafting for their Etsy store, or entering a chili cook-off championship, it sheds light on their personalities and allows for new bonds and connections to form within the team.

Technology and Tools

Technology is quickly becoming the paintbrush to our canvases and the gateway to creating the best customer experiences. As organizations race to implement the latest in workplace innovation, are they also providing the support needed to use these technologies effectively?

At Haworth, we do.

Our team’s work environment is a mix of members (we call our employees members because they’re part of the Haworth family) with a “heads-down” focus and cross-functional teams. When team members are at their desks, you will find many dual monitor arms combined with height adjustable tables to allow switching between programs, as well as comfort and ergonomic support for varying postures throughout the day. 

Workspaces are tailored to the individual’s role. For example, a member on the proposal team is likely working with tight deadlines. They would need adjacent conference spaces equipped with collaborative tables and Workware technology allowing them to quickly see the status of a project. Nearby “touchdown” stations or phone booths would also allow them to make sensitive phone calls away from colleagues.

The right environment empowers people to do their best work.

Personal Growth

Continuing education is an important way to make sure your team is evolving at the pace of customer expectations. Every person on my team sets goals for both personal and professional growth. This manifests itself in several ways. From design certifications like NCIDQ, to MBA programs and Dale Carnegie certification, it is important to support and ultimately celebrate these professional accomplishments.

In addition, look to identify internal learning opportunities. Encourage subject matter experts on your team to share their gifts, as that type of learning will promote employee engagement and understanding.

When appropriate, leverage these internal learning opportunities to set joint team goals with milestones and timelines that hold us accountable to improvement of team performance.

Rewarding Great Work

If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? The answer is of course. Just like the amazing work our team churns out, it needs to be recognized.

We do this in several ways on our team.

We like to eat, and often you will see treats brought in by teammates and supervisors to acknowledge achievements both small and large. This creates infectious positive energy and draws other people from outside our team to celebrate with us.

Sometimes we will make a point of sharing kudos via email or in a team meeting. It may seem small, but people are very appreciative that someone noticed. To acknowledge them in a positive way in front of their colleagues makes a big impact.

Finally, our proposal team rings a bell after every large win. The small noise pales in comparison to the rush of excitement felt by others as they realize the team has made a sale. When the bell rings often, we’re on a roll and energized to land the next one.

If  You Support Them, They Will Stay

Most leaders struggle with how to attract and retain top talent within their organizations. I am extremely fortunate to lead a special team of creatives who are dedicated to producing impactful brand deliverables that support Haworth objectives and allow them the freedom to do their best work. They also visually and directly see their impact on the organization. In the past five years I have hired over 20 people and only lost one to another company. My goal is to look at our talent not only for what they will bring to my team, but also for what they will bring to Haworth in the future. We encourage continuous learning and movement within the business to evolve our organization—and our people. It's what keeps us fresh and keeps members motivated. Most of our team has been here far longer than the three-year average of in-house creatives. I like to think that I play a role in their career longevity because I look for ways I can support and nurture them.


You May Also Like