“You also have to push yourself to stretch beyond what is the norm”
Creativity in Business
In order for your business to be agile in today’s constantly evolving world, you need to encourage a lot of creativity amongst your staff. You also have to push yourself to stretch beyond what is the norm and think creatively about what your business is trying to accomplish. This is true for yourself, but it is also true for your team if you want to squeeze the highest possible productivity out of them without breaking their spirits or overworking them.
The question then becomes, how do we encourage that type of creativity in employees? It is easy to say that it is part of your company’s mission or put it in your employee onboarding materials, but unless it is consistently nurtured you will never get there. In order for creativity to be encouraged, you need to pay constant attention to how your employees communicate with each other and their superiors, how much access they have to decision makers who can hear their ideas and how healthy the office morale is in order to allow the creative juices to flow freely!
1. Hiring Creative Thinkers
The first part of any good employee relationship starts with hiring the best people for the role. If you want creative employees, you need to hire people who are willing to think creatively. You cannot hire people who are looking for positions that are “stable” and “secure” if they are not also interested in growing and learning new skills to be applied to new roles.
You also need to hire people who offer a wide range of skills, because if everyone is the same then it will be harder for collaboration to spark innovation. Instead, too much of the same thought process will allow the team to get too comfortable and complacent and that is not an environment that breeds curiosity and creativity!
2. Return the Favor
When your employees provide their creative thoughts and ideas to you and you are able to apply those ideas to your business, then they should be rewarded for that! Providing incentives to your employees will encourage them to think more creatively without putting undue pressure that can lead to a stressful work environment. Instead of creating the hyper-competitive environment that most businesses have where promotions and other things depend on these moments to shine, instead encourage equal opportunity to be heard and give something for speaking up rather than taking something away for staying quiet.
The rewards don’t need to be anything big, you can even just send an email to the team and share the great idea that you just heard from their colleague. Without gloating or shaming, you can mention that whether or not the idea will work it is still encouraging to see the attempt and that you know there are more great ideas among the team just waiting to be shared with you. It will allow your staff to feel more comfortable in being open without fear of what could happen if the idea is rejected.
3. “Yes, and…”
This is a communication approach in business that has been proven to work. This is a brainstorming exercise that many successful companies use regularly when building out campaigns or strategies with their employees. It resembles what you would see in an improve class and it forces your team to remove the word “no” from the dialogue.
The way that it works is if you get your team into a room and tell them to move the conversation through the circle, with each person adding something new to the topic. It forces people to think outside of the box and be more creative in how they develop solutions or strategies.
4. Be Creative in Office Structure
Studies have shown that, especially with the millennial generation, productivity increases when employees feel that they have more flexibility. Of course, you have to be careful not to go overboard with this freedom, but you can monitor things well enough these days to see who is taking advantage of you and who is committed to the work.
One way to allow for more flexibility is to create flexible work hours. When your team is not stressed out about juggling their kid’s schedules or dog grooming appointments with their work lives, they will be more productive during the hours that they are on the clock. Another option is to allow for remote work. If an employee doesn’t drive or has a dog that needs to go out to the backyard throughout the day, they are going to feel more stressed and less productive if they have to go into the office.
5. Pay it Forward
Benefits are the way that employers pay things forward in business. When your employees provide hard work and strategic thinking to your business, they should be rewarded with vacation, sick time and health care that will give them the comfort and stability that they need in their personal lives.
Being cognizant of how our personal lives can impact our work lives speaks directly to how you are encouraging creativity in your team. When people have peace of mind, their thoughts can move more freely and they are not so preoccupied with whether or not they are going to be penalized for taking sick time if they get the flu or how they will pay for their child’s vaccinations for school.
Businesses require creativity to be successful and to stay ahead of the game in whatever market you fall under. The best way to be creative is with collaboration and that requires a team of people who are all encouraged to share whatever they feel that they can bring to the table. As long as your team has the flexibility and freedom to be open with you, the creativity will flow naturally and you will see exponential growth both in your team and in your bottom line!