Care to Take When Designing the Interiors for Small Spaces

Space is premium for people living in big cities. Big houses and flats are often way too expensive to own. So naturally, most of us have to get by with space constraints.This however does not mean an end of the world if we know the art of interior designing. Yes, it can help us make small spaces look truly spacious, which in turn, may make the tiny look big. For designing your interior, you should only trust an expert or a team of professionals with years of domain knowledge to do the needful job with perfection.Even expert designers need to take some care when designing the interiors of small spaces, which include -Keep it minimalWith small house, the mantra should be to keep it minimal. You can’t afford to make the place look cluttered and clogged with an overload of belongings. Rather, the focus should be on to de-clutter the space and make it appear light, not heavy. When your space is less occupied, you can move or walk in properly and feel like living in a spacious setting. Why would you stuff the space with items when you know it can take up the same area you need for movement! This is why minimalism works, more so when you deal with space issues in the house.

Furniture with versatility in mindFurniture does occupy a lot of space in the house. It often creates the visual sparks and elegance of the desired variety. More importantly, the big and bulky pieces not only stylize the area but give a feel of opulence. Sadly though, your small spaces won’t allow the freedom to go full-hog with the furniture of choice. So, you have to go for versatile pieces that serve dual purposes together and that you can double up and fold up to economize the space perfectly.Subtle use of glass itemsGlass is a kind of material that reflects light and make spaces appear bigger than they actually are. This is why some homeowners use it aptly more often than not in order to get the assumption of spacious rooms. Secondly, whatever glass items you have need to be placed strategically in order to deliver the results they are meant for. Never let them occupy areas in front of doors or near the window. You can also use paintings and wall units to get the same effect if you live in small spaces.

Use the colors sensiblyNothing creates as much visual magic as colors do. If you knew how to harness their hues and shades, your small space would enliven beyond imagination. The best thing about colors is, their effect is no reliant on the shape, size and structure of a house. But yes, you should go with light and warm colors as they make spaces look bigger than they actually are. Plus, they can create a soothing effect in the room, help brighten up the mood and inspire creativity. You can expect a top interior designer to add some darker tones as and where needed to create a more playful appearance.

Seven Team Development Ideas for Team Leaders

There are some foundational elements involved in supporting and growing a team to its potential. Unless these elements are present and fostered by the team leader, the team will not be motivated to accomplish its objectives. Furthermore, it will also be stunted in its growth causing it to continually underperform. I therefore want to share with you 7 key elements that need to be attended to on a continual basis in order to create a high performing team. I also want to give you some simple approaches to addressing and improving these elements.

Commitment level

Often leaders are too afraid to be up front about the need for team commitment. Yet in today’s environment people are looking for something to commit to. Individuals are looking to belong to something bigger than they are, which is worthy of their attention. Therefore team leaders need to share their commitment expectations and draw a picture of what commitment can do for individuals who commit to a team. Discussions need to be conducted on what behaviours the members feel would be appropriate for successful synergy and productive outcomes.

Some workshop ideas would be to discuss what teamwork looks like for this particular team. What behaviours do they see need to be consistent in order to work well together and to accomplish team objectives? If each member can be given a sheet of paper to write down a list of behaviours and then asked to share in the group. It brings a deeper sense of clarity and accountability to the group about all the unspoken expectations that exist. It can also be helpful to get them to list the unacceptable behaviours for the team. What should not be tolerated?

Be ready if issues arise from this because of existing behaviours that may be currently tolerated by some. If defensive behaviours begin to arise from such a transparent discussion, simply label it. “I’m sensing defensiveness arising in our discussion – I am just wondering if we see it as important to be able to have these types of discussions and not to get caught up in emotional reactiveness? I personally think this is important for high quality teams in order to deal with tough issues. What does everybody else think?”

Clear individual and team values defined

It is astounding how many times people work in teams having individual values that conflict with team values. Much of the time, initially such conflict occurs without awareness from other team members, until there is a collision of perspectives. Hence, it is important for team members to know each other and to respect different ways of viewing things. There are great online assessment tools that can aid team leaders in assisting team members to grow in this process. Each team member can privately clarify what their own values are and how that affects their behavior and each team member also receives an aggregate score of what the team thinks of the organization. For a team to be most effective value conflicts should be minimised, then it will bring a greater natural commitment from individuals to the objectives of the team and to each other.

Some workshop ideas to foster discussions on team values revolve around getting individuals to share what is most important for them in a team. You could use a set of cards with each having a team value on it (eg. focus, challenge, vision, commitment, loyalty, unity, co-operation, trust, diversity, respect, organisation, outcomes, etc…) This works well, I spread them out and ask members to choose one or two that are the most important values for team success. I then get them to go around the room and share what they chose and why they thought it was important. It is not rocket science, but it sure deepens team member awareness.

Oft-times people can add significant weight to their particular choice through sharing from experience. This can heighten the impact of how important this is to them. This is an opportunity to ask, “Is this the type of values we want to foster in our team?” If so, why – what will it do for us? After everyone has shared their perspective, you can also point out to the team how different perspectives are helpful in aiding us not to miss important areas for team success.

Team purpose

Every organisation can benefit from being clear on its purpose. There is where a clear mission statement can be helpful. It is an effective means of getting people on the same page and being of one purpose. However, the mission statement itself is not that important, it is the journey to the statement that is most important. When facilitated well, organisational members are able to contribute to the process and adjust their sense of purpose to the organisation.

Hence team leaders need to learn to take their team members on such a journey. It doesn’t need to happen in one session. But the journey is well worth taking. Furthermore, if new members are continually joining the team there needs to be time set aside to revisit the mission statement and discuss the ongoing journey to contribute to and discover the higher purpose of the team.

A team exercise that can be helpful in this endeavour is to start a discussion on the priorities of the team. “What are our key priorities?” Once clarified, discuss how the priorities work toward achieving the mission of the team / organisation.

Clear Measurable Goals and Action-steps

It might seem obvious, but how many teams and team members do not take the time to sit down and write out their goals? And how many do not know how to, nor have ever been trained in how to develop their goals? Written goals help maintain a certain amount of accountability to team outcomes by each member of the team. Written goals stamp out the human capacity to rationalize mediocre efforts into successes. A written goal cannot be argued with when a review process is undertaken. Written goals formed within the larger purpose, aid Leaders in the celebration of milestones, engendering an atmosphere of success.

Just remember that a goal is a picture of the final result. A major responsibility of team leaders is to keep team members reminded of the Higher Purpose in each goal. A dynamic team cannot exist unless there is a common task. When teams work together in this process, they work together to remove obstacles and develop synergistic strategies.

One helpful exercise is to use a whiteboard and divide it into quadrants. Give them headings 1. Vision (3 year perspective), 2. Goals (1 year), 3. Projects (90 day) and 4. Action-steps (weekly actions). Under heading one, get people to imagine they are now three years into the future and everything has gone perfectly to plan – “What does it look like?” In the second quadrant, with this picture in mind, what goals need to be set for this year? What needs to happen and by when? In the third quadrant, discuss what 90 day projects need to be focused upon and prioritised in order to see the annual goals achieved. In the fourth quadrant nail down what specific actions need to be taken this week in order to see the team’s projects completed on time?

Remember the process is one that is to engender full support from all team members. Make sure you get someone to write out the results from the workshop and post them prominently for the team to be reminded. Goals and action-steps that have been developed together and are written and clear are great supporters for quality accountability, taking pressure off of the team leader.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) development of team members

Let me just simplify this for a minute by saying EI involves two key elements. Firstly, it is the emotional growth of individuals where they are more self-aware of their reactive patterns (triggers) and of the reactive patterns of their team members. Secondly, it is using this newfound knowledge to channel their emotions into more empowering modes of operation where the team is all the better for the experience. I like to contrast the terms, “React” versus “Respond.” When team members can learn not to fly off the handle because they have learned to control their emotions, everyone wins.

Sometimes it seems impossible to improve the area of emotional intelligence in a team, but the key is to recognise it as being in the sphere of continuous improvement. You are unlikely to drastically transform team members’ EI levels within a short period of time. I have found that an assessment of individual team members coupled with some training on this topic is invaluable for improvement. Through training together the team receives a common language to discuss this phenomenon. Furthermore, if team members are willing to be vulnerable, opportunities will arise for feedback sessions to discuss ways to improve.

If you want to have a high performing team, then there is no shortcutting in this area. Just make sure you spell out the benefits that will occur for each team member if they put the time into improving in this area. You could mention the positive outcomes they should expect to receive such as, less stress, less conflict, greater unity, higher acceptance of diversity, appreciating team members working in their areas of strength, more effective communication, more satisfactory outcomes and higher job satisfaction – just to name a few.

Roles worked out and defined clearly

If there is one thing that can cause a team to come unstuck very quickly, it is when everybody doesn’t fully comprehend their role and the roles of everybody else in the team. When each individual knows their place and where everyone else fits, it is easier for leadership to show that all are needed in the team and that each has an important task to contribute to team outcomes. Respect is heightened and boundary conflicts are reduced. When each team member has a sense that they have something important to contribute to the team then morale is heightened and productivity is increased.

It is therefore important to review job descriptions and roles on a regular basis. It is up to the team leader in their individual discussions and six-monthly reviews with their team members to assess how accurately their job roles reflect their current required activities. If changes are needed then they need to not only be clarified to the individual team member, but to the whole team. There doesn’t need to be a significant amount of team time taken on discussing such changes, but it does need to be communicated accurately, showing how it benefits the team and the achievement of team objectives.

Effective team meetings

Team meetings can be the undoing of many potentially great teams. They can also be productive, fun and time efficient. The team leader therefore must take responsibility to facilitate them well. Functionally speaking, a well prepared agenda is important to make sure time is not wasted and that the order of the agenda is prioritised in line with the strategic intent of the team. It may not need to be said, but don’t place significantly important agenda items at the end – give them the discussion time they need.

Now when it comes to fun, there is actually a way to make meetings fun and in doing so make them more productive and less confrontational. The team needs to discuss the behavioural norms that they are expecting in team meetings and what is not going to be tolerated. You can creatively discuss specific things such as “yelling” and then come up with a specific phrase combined with an action that team members will use when they see this type of behaviour being demonstrated (see example below). I have done this in teams that I have lead and it is quite amazing how quickly people are confronted in a fun way and are swiftly prompted to move out of their current negative emotional state.

As an example, if someone is speaking over the top of others and not allowing team members to share their perspective, you could say something like, “Is there only one TV channel in this room?” And twist your hand around as if you were trying to change the channel. Because team members have all creatively come up with the unique phrases and combined actions, everyone (especially the culprit) is immediately aware of what behaviour is being exercised and recognised. Everyone has a quick smile or laugh and then the meeting immediately operates in a more productive manner. When a team can operate like this it allows for more innovative discussions without unnecessary dysfunctional team interaction.


Just remember, that team-building is never static. It is always something that the leader must be attending to. When it is attended to correctly it can bring about a powerful synergy where the team outcomes are greater than the sum total of the parts. It can be good to get specific feedback from team members every 6 months to see if you are keeping your finger on the teams’ pulse.

© David Allan, All rights reserved