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Tapping into Your Employee’s Creativity

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Tapping into Your Employee's Creativity

No matter what line of business you are in, your employees and their creative genius, apart from your own, enable you to stand firm. As a leader, the responsibility to stimulate and sustain your employees’ creativity lies with you.

Here are a few strategies that can help you bring out the best from your employees:

Hire People with Diverse Backgrounds: A diverse workplace is more dynamic with ideas floating around the place. People with different backgrounds come together with diverse ideas and experiences. That helps you get diverse perspectives on a problem, an issue or a process. So, hire people of different ages, skills, abilities, gender, languages and so on.

However, diversity can be counter-productive if you let the inherent differences among people come between them. You need to have separate strategies to deal with these differences and bring compatibility within your teams.

Invite Open Discussions: Many managers are hesitant to ask their direct reports for inputs as they feel it undermines their own credibility. They feel asking for inputs could end up sending the wrong message that they don’t know how to run their department. As a result, they end up taking decisions on their own. In this process, they may lose several valuable ideas. Besides, an approach of this sort may make your employees feel overlooked or undervalued. They may not take ownership and only do what they are asked to do.

If your management style veers towards this, maybe you need to make a few changes. Try involving your employees in the decision-making process. Brainstorming is one of the ways in which you can engage your employees. Give them an issue which poses a bit of challenge to your employees and elicit responses. Do not share your views but just listen to them. Do not discriminate and pass judgments on their opinions.

Give Recognition where it is Due: Several surveys we have conducted over the years show that employees quit an organization because it does not recognize their contribution. Instead of just focusing on what an employee does not do well, keep appreciating what he/she does well and encourage him/her to do that often.

Be Flexible: If you are a rigid manager and stick to the hierarchical structure, your employees may not approach you and share their ideas with you confidently. You must be flexible enough to mingle with your direct reports. Share a lighter moment or two with them.

A manager can boost or cripple employees’ creativity. Therefore, you need to act and create an atmosphere where employees feel thinking differently does not attract criticism. For that, you need to be an out-of-the-box thinker.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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  • Vatsala

    Initiate open house session , have idea contest in the key areas which you think are relevant for growth of the organisation. Rewards and recognition play a major role, apart from pat on back and monthly awards immediate rewards or recognition in front of everyone motivates people to perform and take initiative.managers should be open to feedback and be good litener than just a delagtor. sometimes its important to understand employees vision and mission for the group and respect his ideas as well. such action during team meetings or team building sessions bring lot of creativity forward

  • To be truthful these are old and time honored rules that in many ways have been lost in this overly technical world.

    Simple rules for management that, although there are layers to it when you take on each individual (a problem that is good if you are looking for the inherently creative), if applied consistently and provided you have truly hired folks with diverse backgrounds, methods for ongoing self education, and are able to switch easily from leadership to follower and back again is a set of strategies that will bring out the best in your staff.

    It is nice to read something so well founded in historically effective management ideas.

  • Hello Nibha.. I think that empowering your team and individual members makes a difference. Here are some ideas of the top of my head:
    1. What particular task or project might be led by an individual? Give ownership of that task/project to that person. Let him/her know you have noticed and appreciate their creative potential. Recognize and reward successful use of creativity in completing tasks/projects.
    2. In a team environment acknowledge the value of creative contributions and ensure all that you are open to their input. No man or woman is an island.. let your team know you understand this and appreciate the opportunity to hear their ideas. When receiving input, have an open conversation with the individual on the value of the suggestion..piggy back off creative ideas and give credit for originating new ideas to those who deserve it, either in the team environment or in a 1:1 conversation (some people prefer this recognition to be more private)
    3. Proactively approach individuals seeking their input on new initiatives or upcoming changes in the organization. Listen closely and and ask questions.. allow them to once again feel some ownership in the process.
    4. Again, recognize and reward participation in brainstorming sessions.

    hope these help or give you more ideas!

    Vicki

  • I like your article and the points you make. I also know that many well-meaning managers agree with you.

    Yet in practice they are not able to move forward in the directions you have suggested.

    I worked in Ogilvy & Mather for 25 years and I had to change my prescriptive style to get the best out of my creative people.

    One aspect is fun and playfulness. The more laughter in the office, better the climate for creativity.

    My philosophy “Why should serious work be boring?”

  • Chris Grivas

    The most effective strategy I’ve found for tapping your team’s creative potential is to first assess it. There is a fairly new measure out there specifically targeted at understanding the creative preferences of your team and can be a great tool for sparking real insights into why your teams works the way it does when solving problems. Its called FourSight.

    I’ve used this as a part of leadership development programs, team building activities, and for one-on-one coaching and found that particularly helpful is starting the conversation about creative process. I’ve found that without reflection on process, long-term improvement in team process is unlikely and breakthrough thinking even more unlikely.

    As for being a leader who sparks the creativity of team members, the points of your blog post are right on – and also good tips for any leader. To be a “creative leader,” you have to first look at yourself – how do you respond to new ideas? How to you encourage exploration of new ways of thinking? How open to ambiguity and risk-taking are you? How do you show that to your team? Starting with self-reflection is key. Then, there are a host of things you can do on the job to strengthen your ability to allow the creativity of your team to flourish. The thing is like any skill – they take time, commitment, and focus to develop.

  • Larry Osai

    Creativity in employee’s can be tapped if a culture of blame is not part of an organisation’s or a leader’s attributes. Creativity when successful, should be celebrated/rewarded and shared by the team while creative ideas that do not initially succeed should be treated as ‘technical successes’ – a path that an organisation is saved from treading again as-is. Such ‘failures’ should be constructively discussed by the team and lessons gleaned beneficially. In every rock, there is a statue. Therefore the team can creatively re-mould the idea into a successful one.