Creativity is essential for any organization in order to constantly keep your business moving forward. There are numerous organizations that have designed a cool, funky, creative environment for their employees to help them relax and spark creative thinking to get their projects moving forward. Some organizations go as far as having regular brainstorming sessions when working on a project to allow employees to contribute and build on a project. This creates immense engagement as their team members have a say and they are directly involved in the creative process.

The benefits of creativity in the workplace are countless. Here are just a few examples of the amazing results you will experience:

Increases in:

  • Engagement
  • Interaction
  • Staff morale
  • Passion
  • Motivation
  • Problem solving
  • Productivity
  • Team bonding and collaboration

Developing a creative culture takes time and it begins with management, being more open-minded and less judgmental to the suggestions of their team. Patience is a virtue; you need to allow time for your team members to develop their creativity in the organization and to put their ideas together to find optimum solutions.

The following are some suggestions for a leader to inspire the creativity in the team.

  1. Understanding the importance of brainstorming and readdressing issues from a new perspective:

Brainstorming provides a free and open environment that encourages everyone to participate.
Brainstorming brings team members’ diverse experience into play. It increases the richness of ideas explored, which means that you can often find better solutions to the problems that you face. It can also help you get buy-in from team members for the solution chosen – after all, they’re likely to be more committed to an approach if they were involved in developing it. What’s more, because brainstorming is fun, it helps team members bond, as they solve problems in a positive, rewarding environment.

However, you should lead brainstorm in the right way. The best way to make the brainstorming process more efficient for your entire team is to find the brainstorming strategy that works best for their needs, in each situation. A common problem that groups have is that one person, who is the most enthusiastic or extroverted, says their ideas and everyone else assimilates to one or two. No one else shares any new ideas and growth stalls, either because they’re afraid of being rejected or simply aren’t able to think creatively while others are speaking. So how do you get around this? Have people do solo brainstorming exercises directly before the meeting. Either use an app, or go old school and have small pieces of paper with ideas written on them. Draw each idea and discuss the pros and cons, without pressure of having to claim who thought of each one, or have any one person feel that their idea was poor.

  1. Sparking creativity:

Oftentimes, outside factors affect the environment and mood of an office. In the winter, it’s the cold temperatures and there is a longing to just stay inside and relax. In the summer, people often express the feelings of the “I’d rather be anywhere but work” mood every warm afternoon. There are always reasons to be lazy and there will always be factors that stifle creativity at your job.

So, how do you spark creativity in the place that creates those long days? In short, you should maintain the importance of being happy, open minded, grateful, patient and curious for your work and team. So, to be more specific, here are some direct actions you could take to spark creativity and fight the normal office mood swings.

  • Tell people you want to hear their ideas and then give them some amount of time and space to think creatively (i.e. daydream!). Instead of fearing that you’re losing an employee’s clocked-in time to creative thinking, look at it from another angle–you are gaining much wider access to a person’s creative energies by encouraging them to explore ideas whenever the inspiration strikes, which is often outside of prescribed work hours. Offering up as little as thirty minutes of work time a week for exploratory thought could send the message that creativity is valued, no matter when, where, or how ideas are conceived.
  • Ask “what if” questions and encourage speculative thinking.
  • Accept risk and a certain amount of failure. I believe it was Edison who said “to have one good idea, have a lot of them.”
  • Provide a forum for idea sharing and give positive and constructive feedback.
  • Get rid of your old-school ideas about daydreaming, and start doing it. Go ahead–I’m giving you permission. Among the many benefits of daydreaming-it’s fun, and we can all use some of that.
  1. Make your employees feel listened to:

Many employees feel as though their work and contribution to the team are not important. Good leaders, however, seem to be taking note of this problem and are rising up to address the challenges. As a leader, the goal is to make sure that you’re not only acknowledging the noise but also making your way through it and getting to the heart of important conversations. Your employees want to be heard, especially when starting the conversation may seem like the hardest act on their end. It isn’t always easy as an employee to bring up an idea that contradicts the current status quo or is changes their boss’ current project ideas. Creating an environment that is open to listening to any and all ideas or concerns will ensure the free flowing of all ideas allowing for a happier work culture.

You will truly make sure that your team members feel heard if you don’t forget these guidelines:

1.) Tailor meeting styles to fit your team members` needs

2.) Respond to unspoken communications and changes in atmosphere

3.) Respond to expressed concerns immediately

4.) Interview internally for new leadership positions

5.) Handle any problem personally

6.) Talk the cultural language

7.) Be sincere with apologies when things go wrong

Once employees realize that they are heard and important, they will always continue creating and brainstorming for the benefit for the company not just for themselves. Company culture, employee retention and productivity are just some issues that can be positively affected with an increase in team creativity as a company focus.

References:

Barrett-Poindexter, J. (2017) 7 Ways You Can Make Your Employees Feel Listened To. Accessed by:

https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/employers/blog/7-ways-you-can-make-your-employees-feel-listened-to/

Caramela, S. (2018) 4 Brainstorming Techniques to Innovate Your Business. Accessed by:

https://www.business.com/articles/brainstorming-techniques-to-innovate-business/

Claman, P. (2017) How to Spark Creativity When You’re in a Rut. Accessed by:

https://hbr.org/2017/04/how-to-spark-creativity-when-youre-in-a-rut

Fries, A. (2010) Sparking Creativity in the Workplace. Accessed by:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-daydreaming/201002/sparking-creativity-in-the-workplace

Imindq. (2018) What is Brainstorming and How Is It Helpful? Accessed by:

https://www.imindq.com/uses/brainstorming

MindTools. (2018) Brainstorming: Generating Many Radical, Creative Ideas. Accessed by:

https://www.mindtools.com/brainstm.html