Creativity Series - Bringing Creativity Back to the Workplace
Most people start a new job with bundles of creativity and enthusiasm, but as the months and years go on, they get sucked into the void of ever increasing work pressures and challenges until their creativity starts to fade, or disappears altogether. These people are just going through the motions of going to work, and when this happens, job dissatisfaction is high.
What is ironic, is that the longer you are in a role, the higher the expectations are for being creative. Organisations seek innovation, new ideas, and better ways of doing things in order to continue to grow.
What is Creativity?
Creativity is the ability to think outside the box so as to bring new and imaginative ideas into reality.
Creativity is characterized by the ability of one being able to perceive new ways, find hidden patterns, make connections between seemingly unrelated situations and be able to generate solutions.
When you are being creative, first you think and then you process your ideas to achieve an intended result. It involves more than just completing your regular tasks, it involves actively thinking about how to do the task differently while producing the same results or better results.
Many people shy away from creativity because of the fear of the unknown or the fear of failing. Truly creative people know that it is important to take risks and try new things. This is how the next great idea is found. Sure, things might not always work out exactly like you planned, but as long as you learn from your mistakes then the risk is still worth taking.
Why is Creativity Important?
Creativity in the workplace is important because:
It increases productivity;
It enhances problem solving ability;
It enhances interaction and engagement;
It encourages teamwork and team bonding;
It helps to attract and retain quality employees;
It increases the morale of employees;
It is the precursor to new ideas, new products, new services; and
It assists with continuous improvement.
Creativity brings many positive results. When innovation and productivity of employees receive a boost, so too does the success of the business. The health and performance of the business will be higher as employees enjoy working in a well-performing environment.
What is Your Organisation Doing to Enhance Creativity?
So, if creativity is so important, what is your organisation doing to develop, enhance and encourage it?
In most businesses, the leaders or managers are held responsible for coming up with creative ideas and solutions on how to solve work-related problems.
However, the business will be much more successful if the whole team is involved in developing, investigating and sharing creative ideas and solutions. Different members of the team can bring a diverse range of experiences, knowledge, skills, perspectives and ideas to the table.
Enhancing Creativity in the Workplace
Here are some tips for enhancing creativity in the workplace:
Involvement - Involving employees in annual team planning is a great way to bring creativity to the workplace. Having a day or two where the whole team sits down and brainstorms what they want to achieve in the following year. This can include a certain number of new ideas or ventures to try out.
Open Communication - Create an environment where each person can think and speak freely. Make it possible for employees to be able to challenge and disagree with decisions that you as a manager make, providing they can back it up with a reason and a better way of doing things.
Allow Autonomy - As a manager, give your employees the autonomy to decide how they will complete their tasks, provided they produce the expected results in the expected time frame. You can set goals and let them decide how to achieve them. Giuseppe De Simone said in a speech at the Agile Greece Summit 2016, that it is good to allow employees to have at least 10% of their time at work as autonomous time. He said "autonomous means that you should be autonomous in deciding what task to do, how you want to do your task, who you want to work with, and when you want to do a certain task."
Encourage Teamwork - Encourage employees to work with others and seek ideas from others. Groups have diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, so there will be creative ideas and solutions that come up, that might be missed had the person worked alone.
Provide Creative Resources - Provide the resources that will enhance the employee's creative thinking. Time and money are important in performing each task, and they should be applied well. Giving deadlines will trigger creative thinking of how they can accomplish the task before the deadline. Funding is important as some of the creative ideas and activities will require supplies.
Provide Creative Recognition - Managers should actively recognise and praise creative ideas. Any ideas that increase business/sales, improve customer satisfaction or have significant impacts on the business could have some kind of financial incentive or reward associated. This ensures that employees are invested in coming up with new ideas and creative strategies for improvements.
Encourage Problem Solving - Often when we come up against a problem or challenge, we think of an idea to overcome it and rush to put it into action. As a manager, encourage your employees to come up with multiple solutions for every problem. This encourages them to think it through, come up with different ideas and then choose the most appropriate one.
Encourage Personal Investment - If employees are provided with training and development opportunities, career direction and pathways and the information and tools to do their jobs, then they feel more personally invested in the business. With this mindset, they will focus more on being successful and hence think of ways to assist the business to continue to grow.
As a manager, you need to nurture and foster creative thinking in your employees. Creative thinking needs to be recognised and praised. This will encourage employees to realise that their input and ideas are valued and, in turn, make a difference by encouraging more creativity.
A creative person will understand that to have success in whatever they do, they have to risk something. They will not fear failure, but will be willing to think outside of the box and try again if something doesn't work. One only has to look at some of the most successful people in the world to see creativity in action:
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor as "he lacked imagination".
Bill Gates' first business failed.
Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was 4.
Stephen King's first novel "Carrie" was rejected 30 times.
JK Rowling's first Harry Potter novel was rejected 12 times.
These people could have had a very different story to tell if they had given up after the first hurdle. Instead these people took risks, kept working hard and achieved amazing things.
As a manager, you must be at the forefront of bringing creativity back to the workplace. People want to work in an exciting workplace where growth is continual, rather than somewhere stifling and stagnant.
About PDI Solutions
PDI Solutions can work with organisations to develop and deliver training solutions tailored to your particular organisation. Contact us today for a free consultation at email@example.com or visit our website at pdisolutions.com.au