Design Your Management to Boost Your Business

Design is all about what to include, how to include it, and what to leave out.  These are the same set of decisions businesses make day in and day out.  The basic principles of design can be very useful in helping you think about managing your team. 

The classic elements of design are guaranteed to sound familiar and relevant to the workplace, once you read them.  What are the big principles of great design you should be using in your business?  

Emphasis and Repetition

Simply put, emphasize what’s most important to the success of your business, project, or team.  Even more essential is making sure your team knows what the priorities and big picture are.  Your business won’t work if your team is all over the place.

Repeat your message.  Be loud and clear about what will make your team win.  Say it often.  Say it with gusto!  Include it in your presentations. Make it the backbone to every strategic decision.

Your employees will learn just as much from what you say as what you do, so be sure to use your resources in a way that underscores what you want to emphasize as key.  If there is one key factor your team should be driving toward, then your team should be spending the bulk of its time and budget on that same factor.

Balance and Proportion

Bringing balance and proportion to the workplace is really about remembering to treat your employees like people, not robots.  Everyone performs better if they have a good mix to how they spend their time. 

Your team needs time for collaboration as well as solo time to get their individual tasks completed.  That one might seem like a no-brainer from a practical standpoint, since your team can’t get anything done if they are constantly in meetings.  However, it’s also good psychology.  People need down time to absorb, process, and practice what was discussed. 

Another key balance every employee knows is the concept of work-life balance.  As a manager you will earn trust and loyalty if you honor an employees’ time off from work.  Let them take their vacation time.  Avoid pressuring them to work through breaks.    

Alignment and Contrast

Getting a team aligned and working as one can be one of the most challenging aspects to management.  Using the classic design techniques of branding and creating contrast can be the very things that help people feel like they are part of something that matters.

Branding is a buzzword you probably know well.  Every company is trying to establish their own brand and often spends significant resources on key branding elements like logos.  Take a cue from the experts and intentionally build the brand of your team or department.  Your team will work harder if they know who they are together and are proud of it.   

Your team might respond well to having its own slogan or even a logo that goes along with your company’s logo.  Look at professional sports teams who know quite a bit about branding and teamwork.  Name your enemy. Maybe your enemy is mediocrity.  Maybe it’s a rival company.  Whichever way you do it, give your team a feeling to align around and be proud of.

Movement and White Space

Movement improves blood flow, which helps you think.  Using white space, or a break from making your senses work hard, is also fundamental to clear thinking. Here are some ways to incorporate these best practices into your workplace.

Give employees a chance to circulate.  Encourage them to learn how others in the office do their jobs. Give your people a good virtual office software that helps them feel like they have flexibility to work in ways that feel pleasant and natural. Consider standing desks or stretching during morning huddles. 

Breaks from office stimulation and hubbub go hand in hand with the design element of balance. Institute a set quiet work hour for workplaces that can be noisy.  Be aware of assigning too many demanding tasks back-to-back and break them up with simpler or less stressful ones.

Your team will love you for thinking about how to balance out any aspect of the workplace that seems to be too much for them at times and for helping them understand and appreciate their purpose.  

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