In the competitive economy of today, hard work isn’t enough. The principle of ‘innovate or die’ is increasingly leading companies away from focusing on short-term results and productivity and towards a more balance, long-term approach. After all, more than ever, it’s creative solutions that set winners apart from losers.
If you’re a manager, you’re probably asking yourself – right, my employees do their jobs well, but how can I help them be creative? Well, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Here are five simple tips for fostering creativity and establishing a more creative work environment.
Though it may sound a bit stereotypical, brainstorming works. Whenever you and your team find yourselves faced with a problem or challenge, meet and brainstorm ideas for solving the problem or overcome the challenge. Though brainstorming is by nature a free exchange of ideas, it helps to have some ground rules – for example, all ideas are written down, no idea should be considered stupid, but all participants should take the matter seriously. It may take a couple tries, but you could really come up with some great ideas!
Flexible working environment
With most work done on the computer, the traditional office environment is less and less relevant. Though it makes sense for your staff to work in the office most of the time, consider giving them the flexibility to work where they please at least some of the time. This may also include the flexibility to set their own hours – you never know, your employees could come up with the next great idea while sitting on their sofa!
Establish a creative space
As mentioned above, the traditional office environment is not exactly conducive to maximum creativity. Consider spicing up your office with a few splashes of color, some comfortable furniture, and ample whiteboards or interactive screens for fleshing out ideas. You might want to go so far as to establish a specific creative space where employees can freely meet and exchange ideas away from their workstations.
As much as we may think we do our best work alone, that is rarely the case. Though they may be bumpy at times, teams often produce better work than individuals. When forming a team, remember to give it a specific task and ensure that its members are balanced in terms of skills, competences, and personalities. Then, give them the time and space they need to work – you’ll be impressed by the results!
Be open minded
Imagine for a second how many great ideas were never developed because employees were too afraid of being criticized and rejected? Sadly, it happens much more than most managers realize. The most important tip for fostering creativity – and the most difficult – is to ensure a positive, constructive, open-minded working environment. Show employees that you will consider their ideas, no matter from whom and no matter how big or small. If you have to reject an idea, explain why and how the idea could be improved. Simple as it may seem, kindness and open-mindedness go a long way.
Though fostering creativity at the workplace may seem like a daunting task, it is not so difficult to accomplish. If you follow these tips and establish the right environment, you will be thoroughly surprised with what your team members come up with.
For more tips and tricks for the modern workplace, visit the Collaboration Blog at www.novoconnect.eu