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5 Ways to Promote Creativity at Work
By: Michelle Bennett on May 19, 2022 5:30:00 AM
Creativity is a coveted skill. So much so, that LinkedIn has proclaimed creativity is the most important skill in the world. In addition, the 2020 Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum uncovered the number one skill needed is analytical thinking and innovation, otherwise known as creativity.
What Is Creativity at Work?
Creativity is the mindset and ability to experiment and develop innovative ideas and turn them into actionable solutions. It is a desire to learn, ask questions, and look at things differently. For example, individuals who display creativity at work are the ones who come up with solutions, not just problems. They can uncover process improvements no one had ever suggested. They embrace change, as they understand that change is needed to evolve.
Keep in mind creativity isn’t relegated to just the marketing or product development teams. Creativity in the workplace can and should be demonstrated across all levels and functions in an organization.
Michael J. Inserra, EY Americas Senior Vice Chair and Deputy Managing Partner, agree that creativity and innovation can be found anywhere in a company. He said, “Ultimately, there is tremendous value to gain from empowering all individuals within an organization to play an active role in driving innovation forward, in particular, more junior-ranking personnel who may be closer to customers or new trends.”
For leaders at all levels to reap the benefits of creativity in their teams, the proper support and environment must be present. Here are our recommendations on how people leaders can promote creativity at work.
5 Ways To Promote Creativity In The Workplace
- Create a Failure Tolerant Culture
- Be Open to New Ideas
- Provide Development Opportunities
- Give Time for Reflection and Thinking
- Encourage Collaboration
Create a Failure Tolerant Culture
Not every idea generated by your employees will work out. For example, according to Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, over 30,000 new products hit the market every year; 95% of them will fail. This highlights the importance of creating a team culture where individuals feel supported to try creative ideas without the fear of backlash or ridicule from peers or leaders if they miss the mark.
A survey of C-suite executives by EY uncovered that 79% of respondents believed their organization is tolerant of failure. However, another survey found that only 25% of entry-level employees found this to be the case. To overcome this discrepancy, leaders must ensure their actions speak louder than words if they want to create an environment where creativity at work can thrive.
Be Open to New Ideas
Individuals will forgo sharing their ideas and suggestions if they are continually being dismissed, or they receive the dreaded feedback of “that’s how we’ve always done it.” Being open to change can be more challenging than it looks for leaders. There is always risk associated with innovation and implementing new ideas, which can often take leaders down a path of inaction. However, a change in mindset is needed to support creativity. Instead of asking what could go wrong, ask yourself, what could go right?
Provide Development Opportunities
Despite the belief that creative people are born that way, creativity is a skill that can be learned and honed. Sure, there will be people who are more naturally creative. Still, through a team training program, every participant can learn why creativity at work is essential, the different types of creativity, what stifles creativity, and how to put their creativity into action in their role.
Give Time for Reflection and Thinking
Think of a time when you’ve uncovered some of your most innovative ideas at work. It wasn’t when your leader asked you, “I need you to be creative today”; it was likely when you had time to think and let your mind wander. In fact, Psychology Today pointed out that “When people are given a problem to solve and then given a break in which their mind could wander, they were more likely to solve the problem creatively.”
With tight deadlines and endless emails, it can be hard to find time for thinking. However, if it is going to happen, leaders must encourage it. To promote creativity at work, have your team block out time each week for unstructured, reflective thinking and add any new ideas generated to the meeting agenda for your next one-on-one meeting.
New, innovative ideas and solutions to complex problems are often developed where collaboration and diverse experiences and perspectives intersect. To promote creativity at work, encourage individuals to collaborate and seek out the view of others from different departments, seniority, and outside of your company and industry.
Katherine W. Phillips, Professor of Leadership and Ethics Management at Columbia Business School, agrees. In her article, How Diversity Makes Us Smarter, she said, “The fact is that if you want to build teams or organizations capable of innovating, you need diversity. Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision-making and problem-solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think.”
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