“Creative thinking is not a talent; it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.”
Edward de Bono
Your employees want to feel connected to your organization in a meaningful way. Yes, you hired them to do a particular job, using their skills, knowledge, and expertise. Given the opportunity, you may find you your team members offer a whole lot more ingenuity than you thought.
Creativity – as kids, we had boundless opportunities to play, to explore and to figure things out. In the workplace – not so much. Adult coloring books are a huge hit right now. Why? Because we are starved to get back to the roots of individual expression and getting the chance every once in awhile to color outside the lines – literally.
If your workplace has become the “same old hat,” look for ways to put a scarf around it. There are many things you can do to “kick it up a notch” and rekindle the excitement and passion your employees have for your company.
Here are nine ideas to inspire creativity in your organization:
1. Mix it up
When working on long-term projects, assign employees from different departments to work together in tackling the task. By having several divisions involved, team members will experience points of view that they might not have realized if left to their own devices. You’ll also give employees who may not ever run into each other in the company the opportunity to develop friendships. As the the Gallup organization has found, the employees who have a “best friend” at work are more engaged than those who don’t. Let friendships happen.
2. Let your hair down
Offer drawing, painting, acting classes, or other programs that encourage creative expression. Although you may initially get resistance from employees who don’t believe they have talent, encourage them to play along. You’ll foster a more artistic, energized and engaged staff in the process.
3. Fit ideas in
There are many stories of companies who, following in Google’s footsteps of “20% time,” give their employees a certain percentage of time to come up with solutions to problems/projects not assigned to them. Atlassian offers “shipit days” that gives focused attention to a specific issue and, in many cases, solves the problem within twenty-four hours. Give your staff the opportunity to work on “pet projects” that offer a benefit to the organization, but aren’t necessarily part of their job responsibilities. Let them contribute.
4. Think it out
Get your staff together for brainstorming sessions. You can use a variety of techniques including mind mapping, masterminding, or reverse storming to get the ideas flowing. The more things you do to foster idea sharing, the more benefits your business will receive.
5. Go with the flow
Provide a safe environment for employees to share their thoughts. By promoting candor and open conversation, your employees will be inspired to share even the “dumb idea” that becomes the seed of a terrific idea. Remember – don’t ask questions that you don’t want the answer to. These sessions are not the time to criticize or point out what’s wrong. Put on your best poker face and let the ideas happen.
6. Update your brand
If it’s been a while since you’ve revised your company’s mission and value statements, take the time to consider if these declarations are still relevant to your employees today. Ask your staff what the company means to them and give your employees the opportunity to share with the world who you are. You may let employees help in the redesign of your letterhead, website, and other associated collateral.
7. Spur inspiration
Let your employees do their job in the way they want to do it. Establish parameters and then give them the freedom to get the work done in the way they see fit. When you allow your team to develop their own participation goals, they take on a profound sense of pride and ownership and feel more connected to the organization.
8. Hack away
Computer programmers are known for their hackathons, and there’s nothing that says you can’t use the same concept to solve a specific problem. Get everyone together a set amount of time. Bring in food and let the ideas flow.
9. Look for the good
When you hear an inspiring idea, see someone helping a colleague, or learn of a project that came together beautifully, acknowledge the contributions of those involved. Give a handwritten note, surprise them with a gift card to their chosen store, or treat them with their favorite candy bar.
When you let your employees’ creative juices flow, you will lower their stress levels, lift the energy level, and establish a level of trust that makes your employees more passionate, productive and profitable in your organization.
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