Inspiring Creativity in the Workplace
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - 09:00
In most workplace settings the onus of coming up with creative solutions to problems is generally on the shoulders of designated leaders. It’s an essential part of their job and many of them are in leadership positions because of their ability to problem solve. Now imagine what would happen if an organization took the opportunity to broaden their reach and tapped into the backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of the whole team. That diversity of thought is likely to produce an even richer selection of ideas and solutions to work-based problems.
“The more your network includes individuals from different cultural backgrounds, the more you will be creatively stimulated by different ideas and perspectives" - Harvard Business School professor Roy Y.J. Chua.
The benefits of a promoting creativity are numerous and include:
- increased teamwork and team bonding;
- more workplace engagement and interaction;
- greater ability for a company to attract and retain quality employees;
- higher levels of morale, staff happiness, and motivation;
- and, what every manager wants to see, increased production levels.
In a busy workplace how can a leader encourage an atmosphere of creativity and problem-solving?
Foster Communication - First and foremost is to consciously encourage interaction and conversation between departments, teams, and individuals. Communication does not have to be formal, in fact some of the best ideas occur organically in a casual setting like the lunchroom or over coffee.
Support and Reward Creativity - Putting creativity higher on the scale of importance can drastically change the workplace environment. Be sure to get corporate and management support to maximize the chances of success. Reward creativity by holding social events to acknowledge when an employee or team distinguishes themselves in a particular area.
Promote Diversity - When bringing people together, diversity matters. Aim to recruit people with different knowledge bases, experiences, specialties, and cultural and educational backgrounds. This is especially important when creating a designated ‘innovation’ team in the workplace.
Offsite Meetings - A simple change of location can act as a refresher for employees, allowing them to leave their day-to-day activities, think about old problems with a new perspective, and help the mind stay focused on the task at hand. You’ll also have the added bonus of boosting morale since most of us can agree - offsite meetings are fun!
Create a Collaborative Space - This may require some creative thinking on its own before implementing since available office space may be limited. Once a spot has been mapped out (ideally with some input from employees), design the space with collaboration in mind. Start with providing adequate tools such as a whiteboard, chalkboard wallpaper, a broad work table, and associated technology that may be needed. Don’t be afraid to add some colour to the wall, images, and/or plants, all of which add a welcoming and comfortable place for people to think and share ideas.
As the global workplace grows and changes, organizations need to up their game in order remain competitive, and fostering a positive, diverse environment for creativity to flow becomes ever more relevant. Fortunately with a little planning and forethought, it is possible to get the best of both worlds; an organization where business objectives are met and creativity flourishes.
Bayerl C, Bettencourt M, Spolidoro M, Taormina A, Erimez S, Mays L. Healthy Meeting and Event Guidelines: Creative Tool to Promote a Healthy Environment in the Workplace. Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition & Dietetics. September 2, 2013;113:A80.
Diliello T, Houghton J, Dawley D. Narrowing the Creativity Gap: The Moderating Effects of Perceived Support for Creativity. Journal Of Psychology. May 2011;145(3):151-172.
HAO M, ZHI-CHAO C, TIAN-CHAO G. POSITIVE TEAM ATMOSPHERE MEDIATES THE IMPACT OF AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP ON SUBORDINATE CREATIVITY. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal. March 2016;44(3):355-368.
James K, Brodersen M, Eisenberg J. Workplace Affect and Workplace Creativity. Human Performance. April 2004;17(2):169-194.
Tierney P. The Influence of Cognitive Climate on Job Satisfaction and Creative Efficacy. Journal Of Social Behavior & Personality. December 1997;12(4):831-847.