English writer and philosopher Anthony Jay once said: “The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.” However, how do you encourage creativity in the corporate world? It’s not always obvious how to nurture and promote such a mindset.
By Vanessa Yanez
Whatever type of business or industry you are in, you need to harness the power of creativity to attract more customers, grown your company’s brand, create must-have products and services and bring new investors and work in an inspiring corporate culture. However, for many team leaders, encouraging creativity can be a challenging task to complete. If you are not having much success encouraging your team to be creative, here is some practical, effective and proven advice that will help you do just that, helping you reach the top and stay there.
Do: Be Supportive of New Ideas. Embrace the Left Side of the Brain.
If you want your employees and teammates to think from the left side of the brain and get creative, then you need to make aware that their ideas will be listened to and seriously considered. It’s your responsibility to make them feel safe about taking risks and trying new things. Taking risks is an essential part of creative thinking, and as a manager, you need to understand, even embrace, that not all creative new ideas presented to you will work. Never penalize the ones that fail. Similarly, never rebuke your employees for offering creative suggestions, no matter how bad you think they are. If they fear they will be made to feel or look foolish for doing so, they will stop trying to be creative and close off that side of their brain.
Act on your team’s creative ideas, even just as an exploration. Implementing their ideas proves to your team members that you take their suggestions seriously and value them enough to devote time and resources to their views. As a direct result, they will try harder to be innovative if they see that their inputs can indeed lead to change.
Do: Try Different Work Practices
Periodically encourage your team to try different work practices than the ones they are accustomed to. Working in a different location, for example, or working with business partners from other divisions of your business can stimulate creativity by shaking up their thinking into a new direction. You could also try short-term job swaps, with employees periodically doing work in positions that are new to them. The newcomers may see new solutions or recognize potential problems that the employees who are in that role every day have missed. This approach could prove to be a boom for all involved.
Do: Develop a Guiding Vision
Having a clear purpose will help your team be more creative about fulfilling a vision. Don’t just expect your people to develop a sense of impetus for themselves. As the team leader, it is your job to give it to them. Use storytelling with vivid imagery as a way of doing this. Nobody cares about mission statements. However, people do get swept away and impassioned by a good story.
Moreover, now let’s get to the Don’t.
Don’t: Get Competitive
Never, ever encourage your employees to get competitive with each other over creativity. It will only kill their individuality and sense of innovation. Foster an environment of support and encouragement. Do not reward employees or teams who come up with the “best” creative new idea by giving them funds taken from other employees or organizations. Don’t encourage a group by demoting the others. This approach mostly only helps everybody to think about out-scheming others instead of collaborating on innovations. It also festers distrust while creativity blossoms in a collaborative environment.
Don’t: Demand Creative Ideas on the Spot
Creativity, for the most part, does not work well under pressure. If you want your employees to get creative, you have to give them the time and space they need to come up with beneficial new ideas.
Don’t: Mandate Brainstorming Sessions
Scheduled brainstorming sessions have captured the popular imagination, but in truth, the best ideas rarely come out of these. Creativity cannot be controlled, but it can be encouraged. Many people come up with their best ideas while walking or exercising; some are at their most creative in the morning while others are evening thinkers. Trust your employees, give them the space they need and help them find their voice in their way. Let them work from home, from the coffee shop, be open-minded. By unleashing people’s creative energy, you’ll be rewarded with a much more effective, innovative team.
About the Author:
Vanessa Yanez – World Wide Head of Print Communications at HP. You may find out more about Vanessa on LinkedIn