Creative thinking isn’t something that just happens; it’s an active process that requires time, effort, and persistence for optimal results. Whether you work for a small company or manage a team of people at a larger corporation, fostering creativity in your employees can have many positive effects on your business as a whole. Here are 5 ways to boost creativity at work if you feel like you or your team are in a rut:
This may seem like an odd place to start, but hear me out – it’s a strategy promoted by many independent studies, Psychology Today and Scientific American. Today we have less downtime than ever before with personal and professional lives blending together and social media use on the rise—but downtime is a necessity, not a luxury. The Child Mind Institute has studied this in children, finding that boredom seems to help children develop the skills to be more flexible, plan and problem-solve more effectively. Our brains are making thousands of decisions every day, so having the time and space at work to have free time is imperative to having a healthy – and more creative – team rather than one that makes sub-par decisions because of cognitive overload. Find ways to encourage boredom, and you’ll find those solutions faster.
Allow Employees to Fail
Creative thinking often requires failing in order to succeed. Again, creative thinking doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens when people are pushed out of their comfort zones, when they start making mistakes, and when they start trying things they’ve never tried before. Allow your employees to fail by giving them room to explore new ideas that might not pan out. This will enable teams to put less pressure on themselves to come up with the “correct” answer and will instead encourage them to take more risks (and suggest more creative ideas). If they fail, encourage them to learn from their mistakes and use those to inform their future decisions.
Set Clear Goals & Deadlines
Goals and deadlines are important in any business, but they’re especially crucial for creative thinkers. Having to work toward a specific deadline can help employees focus on the task at hand and avoid distraction. Getting specific about the goals and deadlines in your company can help employees stay focused on the bigger picture. If there’s no clear way to measure the success of a project, it can be difficult for creative thinkers to know where to start. Find ways to quantify different goals throughout your company and set specific deadlines for when those goals need to be reached. This will help creative thinkers stay focused on the task at hand.
Rotate Employees Often
The best employees are constantly learning and growing, and staying in the same role for too long can reduce their ability to do so. Rotation programs, in which employees regularly switch roles, can help to encourage creativity in your team members. Regular rotations can allow employees to experience new types of work, meet new people, and learn from new managers, boosting creative thinking. When you regularly rotate employees, you force team members to look outside their normal field of expertise for answers – a great source of inspiration for generating new ideas and improving processes and systems.
Host an In-Person Brainstorm Session
The core of creative thinking is the ability to generate as many ideas as possible. Brainstorming is a proven way to encourage employees to come up with as many ideas as possible, without judgement or criticism from other team members. Focus less on solutions and more on the ideas themselves. Allow your team members to talk freely
without judgement, to come up with an idea without feeling pressured to solve a problem right away. We recommend ideation sessions always be in-person when possible to that everyone is actively engaged, there is no multitasking going on and diversity of voices in the room can be encouraged more effectively. If you’d like to know more about how to effectively train your team to generate ideas more effectively, refine them and action them, check out our brand-new ThinkShop program -- a facilitated team workshop which makes this type of training turnkey and arms your team with a reusable toolkit.
There are many ways to boost creativity in your company, but the best way is to encourage an environment where employees feel safe expressing their ideas and thinking outside the box. Creativity thrives when there are no expectations, no pressure, and no judgment - just room for exploration and discovery!