Whether in startups or established companies, leaders and executives are expected to be pioneers of new ideas and solutions. But when you’re just one person in a larger team or massive company, being the sole source of new ideas can prove to be exhausting — and not very fruitful.
To generate better ideas, improve employees’ problem solving or critical thinking, and reduce the burden on leaders, consider fostering creativity in your team.
The Importance of Creativity
Creative thinking is one of the most powerful tools an executive can harness for themselves and their peers or employees. Creativity is more than just the ability to paint, write, or dance; it’s the ability to express new ideas and solve problems in non-traditional ways.
Creative selling, creative brainstorming, and even creative marketing are all essential elements of a great company. A company needs creativity to succeed, no matter their mission. Studies show that encouraging creativity benefits the company overall: employees who are able to express their creativity are typically happier and more productive, which forms a positive office culture. Employee retention is higher, profit margins larger, and open collaboration is encouraged, leading to better operations. When you foster creativity, you foster all of those things that make your company succeed.
Creativity is best utilized when many people are working together to solve the same problems or achieve the same goal. Other executives, team members, and employees are all untapped sources of creativity; all you have to do is unlock that potential.
How to get the creative juices flowing
If you’re concerned that creativity isn’t your strong suit, or that it will be hard to introduce nontraditional methods into your team, you’ll be surprised at how unobtrusive creativity can be. The ideas below will help your team gradually increase creativity without changing too much of the structure or making anyone feel uncomfortable.
1. Change the Attitude Towards Failure
As an executive, what do you do if something isn’t working? You try something else. While not every attempt results in success, the idea is to keep moving forward with potential solutions. Making trial-and-error the norm and cultivating this thought process can be the key to unlocking creativity.
When companies demonstrate that they value creativity, team members feel empowered and inspired to explore and share their ideas.
2. Hire from a Diverse Pool
One key to making sure that innovative ideas are introduced into the pool is making sure that diverse people are on your team. This means hiring people from different age groups, backgrounds, educations, skill strengths, and more. They’ll bring their unique perspective to brainstorming sessions.
Having a diverse team will also ensure that the most skilled people can carry out the innovative ideas, as well as troubleshoot along the way.
3. Hold Separate Brainstorming Sessions
You probably already hold team meetings where you bounce ideas off of each other, or where employees ask for help solving complex problems. Did you realize that those were creativity-inducing meetings? By purposefully working as a group and soliciting innovative ideas, studies show that teams can create wholly innovative solutions to problems.
Make sure that brainstorming meetings are separate from regular team meetings. That way, brainstorming meetings are seen as problem-solving, interactive gatherings where you are trying to brainstorm, and that a particular meeting doesn’t need to finish with a definitive result. That will help increase engagement and attendance, which in turn will inspire creativity.
4. Create Both Private and Group Space
It may seem counterintuitive to think that separate offices can boost creativity. However, studies show that many people function best when they can return to quiet spaces after team brainstorming. By encouraging people to use the open, communal space for brainstorming and then letting employees use their own private space, you’re creating a balance. Giving employees their own quiet space will allow them to recharge and prevent burnout.
That balance will generate better ideas, happier employees, and even more potential benefits to your company.
Creativity may seem like a finicky, unreliable source of business acumen, but the truth is that it can be sharpened and used to your company’s advantage. When you have a diverse, happy, and empowered team of creative employees who feel like their contributions matter, the more likely their ideas will be bigger and better.