How far will your journey of being creative in the workplace go? As far as you are invited and come to the party.
The organization in which you work, as well as you as an individual, both need to foster creativity in the workplace. Without this, as Dr Amabile’s research clearly shows, employees disengage and productivity suffers. Without this, co-workers connect less in productive and fruitful ways. The ‘index’ of job satisfaction drops.
What helps creativity flow?
- Accessibility and connectivity – to leaders – co-workers – outside agencies if needed – resources – time
- Acknowledgement, recognition, accreditation and encouragement
- Embracing healthy conflict, and debate focused on ideas and not personalities
- Fostering a belief that mistake-making and even risk-taking are OK
- Increased autonomy
- Light-heartedness to balance seriousness – with that opportunity to adventure and play
- Open and honest communication based in trust
- Simplicity in rules, processes and language – KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
What Blocks Creativity?
It’s probably worthwhile considering the reverse side to have a complete picture. The main ones which come to mind are:
- A risk-adverse and conflict-adverse culture
- Accreditation is insufficient, or even lacking. A sense of under-appreciation is common
- Analysis paralysis and waiting for ‘perfection’
- Communication which is unclear, loaded-down with jargon, and insufficiently open and accessible. Commonly with that goes cumbersome ways to communicate – too much ‘red tape’
- Everything is taken too seriously, so there’s increased stress and tension, instead of increased connectivity and being on a team becomes a chore
- The ‘bigger picture,’ the ‘vision,’ is unclear, too small, constrained by too many considerations. People simply aren’t engaged with or excited by what’s set. Predominantly, they don’t feel ownership.
Six tips to boost your creativity
There are simple ways and means, for both managers and workers, to foster creativity in the workplace. Here are just a few to get the wheels turning:
- Create job swap days where people experience each other’s jobs and become more aware of each other’s challenges and perspectives. Creativity thrives on connections, changed perspectives and synchronicity
- Inject some light-heartedness into meetings, hiring practices, and the workplace culture. Humour is one of the biggest catalysts for creative thinking! (Ha + Ha = AHA!)
- Offer, seek for yourself, training in creative thinking, creative leadership and brainstorming skills. Being further informed, educating yourself and looking outwards, often benefits
- Refresh your outlook about your job. Carole Brown writes about remaining fresh in your job in her e-book, The Essential Career Guide.
- Invite an inspirational speaker to a meeting, or have a co-worker/employee speak. Make this a regular practice. A short 15 mins talking-time which focuses on say progress or something that would benefit others in the immediate would be welcome
- Express gratitude. This is a huge resource; not just with fostering creativity. Amelia Ishikawa wrote an article for Career Actually, Gratitude – not just for the good times, which is well worth reading. I spoke further of gratitude in the series – Lessons from Teaching.
Gratitude – acknowledging and appreciating others and their efforts – is best expressed:
- Sincerely and authentically
Create a ‘space’ in the workplace, or at your work station, for ideas, questions, ‘what ifs?’ With this in mind, have a ‘space’ where such can be banked; a repository open to anyone in the workplace. Creativity needs to be ‘fed,’ and good ideas and solutions can come from anywhere. Sometimes an issue, problem or idea needs to simply sit for a while until an ‘ah-ha!’ moment happens.
Creativity is wonderful. Creativity can be a joyous experience. With being creative you feel connected within yourself, with others and the world around you. Even when others may say that there are no new ideas, the truth is we can use old ideas in new ways. All in all, you make progress and that in itself is a powerful motivator at work and in life.
To finish on an empowering thought from Einstein:
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.