How to Inspire Curiosity in Your Team

March 16, 2020

Boredom in the workplace is dangerous. Akin to burnout, boredom happens when employees feel they’ve plateaued in their position, yet are settled enough that they’re unmotivated to make changes. A survey of nearly 400 employees by OfficeTeam reported that workers feel bored about 10.5 hours per week, which can result in uninspired, unmotivated and uninteresting work.

To fight boredom, managers across Boston look for new ways to inspire curiosity in their teams, such as lunch-and-learns and professional development opportunities. To spark innovation, it’s important to break out of standard routines. At Breezeway, Founder and CEO Jeremy Gall said the company hosts off-site retreats where employees can reconnect with the company mission and use Breezeway’s products.

Another way to get employees’ creative juices flowing? Ownership.

“Cultivating a passionate environment starts with empowering each employee to think like a business owner,” Middlemas said.

New experiences break down walls and encourage people to come out of their shells. Making new friends from different departments, participating in company culture and even starting book clubs can all lead to employees feeling greater engagement in their work. 

 

zauis
zaius

For Vice President of Industry Strategy and Growth Rick Kenney, staying curious is done by “shapers,” or active thinkers. During networking events at marketing company Zaius, practitioners share stories of wins and challenges instead of pitching products. This format leads to conversational chats from participants, rather than panels, of one or two people.

 

How do you create a culture of curiosity?

We urge our teams not simply to see what happens, but also to shape what happens. This is especially true with our customer-facing teams. Being able to do more than simply influence, helping design solutions that enhance the entire customer experience is a massive motivator, and yields a better, more informed solution. Shaping what happens is active, while seeing what happens is passive. Shapers are curious.

We urge our teams not simply to see what happens, but also to shape what happens.”

 

What are some things you do to inspire curiosity in your team? 

Often in marketing technology, you'll hear an awful lot from companies espousing their own merits. Our approach is to turn that around and center on the brand. We ask, “How can we assist you?”

Our (un)Panels embody this culture and are not your typical networking event. Instead of pitching products, we share stories. Most importantly, we give the microphone to the practitioners to share their wins and challenges. This breeds deep engagement. Instead of one or two talking heads, we have dozens of engaged (un)Panelists assisting each other.

 

breezeway
breezeway

Breezeway hopes their software makes property management — you guessed it — a breeze. To inspire his team to continue finding fresh solutions, Gall wants every one of his employees to think like a business owner. Putting themselves in the customer’s shoes allows them to shift perspectives and operate with curiosity. 

 

How do you create a culture of curiosity?

Cultivating a passionate environment starts with empowering each employee to think like a business owner. We give each person tremendous responsibility so they can have maximum impact on their professional development and the business. 

I encourage our team to stay up to date with the latest market trends, to not be afraid to make mistakes and to constantly seek creative ways to deliver more value. Operating with curiosity makes it easier to identify and solve important problems, which leads to a stronger product and positioning.  

I encourage our team to stay up to date with the latest market trends.”

 

What are some things you do to inspire curiosity in your team? 

Each year we host an off-site meeting for employees to connect and realign themselves with our company mission. One activity during this year’s off-site was to use Breezeway’s mobile product to fully inspect our vacation rental at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. 

Testing our very own product in real time was a fun way for each department to gain a better understanding of how the product is built and gain perspective on the user experience. Everyone huddled up afterward to share and discuss their feedback.

 

oneview
oneview commerce

Linda Palanza, CEO, said OneView Commerce focuses on experimenting with new technology and architectures in their designs. By giving teams autonomy, employees remain accountable in hitting their goals. This autonomy applies to company culture as well: different cross-departmental teams are responsible for creating positive and inspiring environments for getting work done. 

 

How do you create a culture of curiosity?

We are passionate about treating every experience as part of the journey to learn, evolve and excel. Building state-of-the-art architecture and solutions with the latest tools often means we are pushing the envelope on new processes and experiences. Subsequently, we don’t pull a page from an existing playbook but instead, write one as we go. We embrace our agility and nimble size by continuously learning when the results go exactly as planned or even when they don’t. Teams have a high degree of autonomy in how they operate and are accountable for themselves and their teams. 

We are passionate about treating every experience as part of the journey to learn, evolve and excel.”

 

What are some things you do to inspire curiosity in your team? 

We work to have formal and informal processes to inspire and engage our teams. Formally, we put inspiration and empowerment in the hands of employees through our culture committee, a cross-functional team that reviews all matters related to culture and recommends improvements to support our vision and to create a positive and inspiring environment for all. Informally, we have social and team-building events that encourage our viewers to think about and build relationships outside of their daily work sphere. 

 

peapod
peapod digital labs

Amateur cooks feeling uninspired in the kitchen can turn to Peapod Digital Labs, which offers an array of recipes and ingredients to help make cooking complex dishes a little simpler. Director of Product Management Carrie Brewster said cross-departmental brainstorming sessions help generate out-of-the-box ideas that can be passed down to customers. To encourage creative thinking, employees play improv games to get comfortable presenting in an impromptu way.

 

How do you create a culture of curiosity?

As product managers, my team has to be able to stand in front of a group and talk about their product. They have to be comfortable with their ideas, even if they’re creative or outside of the box. They’re like salespeople because they’re trying to persuade others on why their idea is a good one.  

We like to have regular brainstorming sessions with other parts of our tech team.”  

 

What are some things you do to inspire curiosity in your team?

First, we like to have regular brainstorming sessions with other parts of our tech team. Bringing together people from product, UX, development and other teams, we’re able to identify a couple of focus areas and break into groups to capture a free flow of ideas related to those focus areas. Initially, nothing is off limits. We capture all the ideas on Post-it notes and then present our ideas to each other because we have to be able to articulate our ideas and be persuasive. We’ll leave this brainstorm with at least five really great ideas that we can incorporate into our roadmap.  

Another thing we like to do is to play “PowerPoint roulette.” Team members are given a presentation on a random topic that they don’t see in advance and they must present it to the group on the fly. Usually, this ends up being a hilarious way to build camaraderie within the team but also helps folks get really comfortable presenting in an impromptu way. Everyone has to think on their feet and react based on what they’re seeing. Doing so teaches you to think creatively and create messaging to support your ideas. 

 

flywire
flywire

Flywire’s payment platform lets customers pay for high-value services like travel. Senior Director of Sales Colin Smyth credits travel for cultivating curiosity within his team. Booking flights, sharing books and enjoying new foods together encourages cross-department communication.

 

How do you create a culture of curiosity?

In many ways, travel automatically creates a culture of curiosity. We are always looking for the next adventure or place to go. We talk a lot about solving problems for clients and prospects. The best problem-solvers are typically very curious people. 

In many ways, travel automatically creates a culture of curiosity.” 

 

What are some things you do to inspire curiosity in your team? 

We have a book club on the team where each month, we suggest a new book for the team to read. We want to create a culture where team members are learning about new products or people who have been successful. In addition, we love food and are always using meals as a way to drive conversations around problem-solving and learning new ideas. 

 

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