Today, companies spend a lot of money on training their employees to improve their creative skills in order to be more competitive and innovative.
But it does not always work, why? How to boost creativity?
How can we encourage creativity in workplaces?
Promoting creativity in the workplace is totally possible. If the term was mainly reserved for alternative professions and hobbies, it has changed a lot since then. Today, creativity is being cultivated everywhere around the world.
To encourage creativity, it is first necessary to remove your limits and welcome new initiatives. Because that’s a fact: creativity is organic. Then, it is important to give autonomy and let people test their “wings” to learn to fly. When we test and try things, we build the world of tomorrow. But of course, we need some advice to do it correctly and avoid major mistakes. It could also be useful to organize offline brainstorming sessions and encourage team members to come up with three to five creative ideas for a project. Last but not least, we must build a diverse team, even if we are tempted to hire candidates from the same schools and profiles. The variety of different skills and strengths are promoting healthy debate and creativity.
Stop saying “but” or “no”. Those two words stop immediately creativity instead of allowing ideas to develop. We can rather say “yes and” and co-create from what has been said. We should also be curious, open and flexible. Everyone sees the world through different ‘glasses’ and it is important to listen actively and ask open questions in order to understand each one points of view. It will allow teams to create, innovate and move freely within their areas of expertise.
It is also essential to promote experimentation and support failure in order to inspire discussion and co-create new goals. Increasing creativity is a way to move towards chaos and create from everything and nothing. Creativity and innovation require a balanced approach which gives a direction, a target to aim for. That’s the only way companies can obtain productive and innovative solutions.
Leaders need to celebrate small wins in the teams. To do it, they can circulate emails of praise or simply say thank you to reward creativity. This provides stimulating intellectual changes and requires leaders and managers to set goals and give employees the freedom to choose their own methods.
Communication is key
In both relationships and at work, communication is the key! It improves the workplace, promotes a work/life balance, and supports colleagues in their professional goals. That’s why leaders must adapt their communication according to the person and situation so they can create trust, openness and creativity. Managers could also encourage open conversations by having, for example, a ‘wish box’ in the office for employees to make anonymous suggestions. Technology is an ally in this quest, allowing the office to network in multiple ways (slack, WhatsApp groups, Teams, …). Technology helps team members share ideas in an informal and fear-free way.
Communicating means calling people, chatting, stopping by people’s desks, and having a coffee with your colleagues. Those small interactions are vital as they help to build trustful relationships.
Moreover, leaders must implement brainstorming sessions to unlock the team’s creativity. This activity should be a space of fun and freedom. It can start with some team exercises to warm up people’s brains and help them realize that they are in a safe space. For example, we could start with a game such as a word association. The point is to come up with some ideas that might fly. The only rules: don’t judge ideas, write everything up, and don’t be critical.
To scale up creativity, providing a safe environment is actually the duty of the leader and its organization. People need to be able to express and evaluate their new ideas, challenge assumptions and question traditional methods. Because creative thinking comes from critical thinking. Surely the creative effort should be supported by the entire organization, not solely a line manager or leader.
In other terms, to raise up creativity, we have to seek out multiple solutions before evaluating them, be open-minded, encourage collaboration among a diverse workforce, and challenge assumptions.
Conclusion: The recipe for success
Creativity is not your enemy anymore. It is now your higher strength.
For the recipe, you need three main ingredients:
1- To develop your teams’ collective intelligence.
2- To lead with authenticity.
3- To be open and flexible to all kinds of ideas and perspectives.
Now, it’s your turn!