I can be found writing about creativity regularly.  I share that you need creativity no matter what job you have.  Innovation can be found where creativity lives.  But how about a real-world example of a leader who came up with a creative manner in which to motivate her team? How to lead your team with creative motivation.

What do you do when you’re a young new Supervisor and have taken on a team of experienced reps who don’t really care whether you’re managing them or someone else is.  How do you overcome the age barriers?  The experience barriers?

Ashley was young when she was hired to Supervise a Tech team in our wireless company.  Not only was she young, but she’d only been a Tech rep for two years while the team that she was leading was made up of Reps with none having less than five years in Tech Support.  Not the easiest of jobs to step into but she agreed to take on the challenge.

One of the first challenges that she had was coaching them.  While they didn’t need to be coached through their technical skills, they did need to be coached through soft skills as well as upselling skills.   These were the Reps who only sold an accessory if it helped them fix a technical problem for the customer.  Even though a sales goal was on their performance appraisal, they knew that as long as they were meeting all of their other goals, they would still meet all for their rating.  They would pass enough to stay under the radar so they could come in, do their job and go home without additional responsibilities or expectations.

Ashley started by trying to get to know her Reps but was getting resistance.  She tried coaching her Reps, but was just getting lip service – Reps would agree to the coaching and then just go back and do what they always did, what they were comfortable with.  When a new equipment program with a sales contest came out, Ashley decided she was going to change it up and do something completely unexpected.

She challenged them to sell 10 phones in five days and if they did she would do something outrageous.  She would sing and dance to the song The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)    Not only was she going to do it, but in front of her bosses as well.  She knew that there were some players on her team who were starting to warm up to her so she was able to get a couple of Reps on board.  She made a big deal out of each sale and put their name on a board, made a big deal out of the sale in the team chat, and talked about it in team huddles.

And, of course, the team stepped up to the challenge and made the goal.  Why?  Mostly because they were curious to see if she would go so far and embarrass herself in front of everyone.  And Ashley was good for her word.  She dressed the part and did her best rendition of the song.  Mind you, we worked for a wireless company, phones were out and videos were going.  Below is one of those videos that Ashley is proud to share.

Life After The Fox

Things got easier for Ashley.  Why?  Because after being willing to uphold her end of the bargain and embarrass herself, they saw that they could trust her.   Her Reps realized that she was in it alongside them.  Coaching became easier, roleplaying became easier.  She then challenged them to increase their accessory sales and enticed them with cupcakes from a Cupcake Wars bakery for the winner.  Another creative idea.  They started participating in skill drills and using the positioning that Ashley was giving them.  Reps went from almost no sales to 15 or more accessories sold in a month.

Because Ashley was willing to try something different, something creative, she was able to gain the trust of her new team.  That is one way to use creativity in managing your team at work.  What have you tried?

Here are some previous posts that discuss creativity and how to tap into it.

How To Tap Into Your Creativity Part 1
Use Your Imagination Part 2