Creativity is the psychological characteristic that allows an individual to “think outside of the box” and produce new and innovative ideas.
We find examples of creativity everywhere and most of us (I did too) tend to believe that creativity is an innate ability. However, that is not entirely true.
Whilst this is the case with most people, creativity can also be drawn out and developed through hard work, focus and encouragement. For instance, former member of The Beatles and rock icon Sir Paul McCartney openly admits to not exhibiting any special talent in his youth; he states that he worked very hard, practised regularly and learnt from others to develop his skill-set – it just goes to show that you can “get by with a little help from your friends.”
This article will highlight some effective approaches to develop and encourage others to be more creative in the workplace.
An effective way to get employees to think differently and to keep them enthused is to offer rewards for their input. I’m not suggesting you break the bank after each and every new idea you’re presented with; but recognition, praise and appreciation go a very long way. That being said, a slightly more tangible incentive would certainly encourage more original thought…
It is essential to respond enthusiastically to all ideas; regardless of whether you agree or not. In extreme cases where someone presents you with an idea so outlandish, that it is difficult to decipher whether they are joking or not, it is still imperative they don’t leave feeling foolish or embarrassed. Otherwise it is likely that it will be the last time they ever pitch to you again.
“The economic future of an organization depends on its ability to create wealth by fostering innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.” Linda Naiman – Creativity & Innovation Consultant, Coach and Author.
Positive Working Environment
Some psychological studies have revealed that a happy and positive person is more likely to come up with creative ideas. The studies suggest that positive mind-sets widen our perspectives and thought processes, as we are more relaxed and confident, and therefore more likely to think big and fear the consequences of failure less.
You will never have different viewpoints and ideas if you exclusively hire people with the same qualifications, experience and schooling from the same backgrounds.
If you want to develop creativity in the workplace and the first point applies to you, then you may have to reconsider your recruitment prerequisites and diversify your workforce.
One of the reasons that some employees are not presenting ideas to you is that they fear the repercussions of failure more than they want to impress you – this has to stop! You should encourage risk-taking and be open and welcoming to new ideas and approaches.
“The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ sense” Pablo Picasso
Challenge the way staff work
Shake things up a bit. Encourage your employees to approach their work with a different outlook if a change is in order. Discuss whether they have contemplated what could be achieved by changing their approach: Even if this comes in the form of you setting up suggestion boxes so employees can showcase their ideas non-verbally; or even anonymously if it suits the individual better.
Please watch this short video by Associate Professor at Cornell University Jack Goncalo about the importance of creativity in every workplace.
He suggests that every organisation would benefit from having creative individuals and that many of them may overlook those that could have the most innovative and creative ideas.
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We live in a forward-thinking and technological age that encourages creativity and innovative thinking. That being said it would be wise to consider implementing these tips into your workplace.
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