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Cultivating a culture that inspires creativity isn’t reserved for disruptive, cutting-edge organizations. It’s essential for companies of all shapes and sizes and across all industries. Without creativity, you aren’t well-positioned to adapt to new technologies, cater to changing consumer tastes, discover new opportunities, or maintain a competitive edge.
Worse, it leaves your team feeling unchallenged and disengaged. People not only want to feel that their work is making an impact on their company, but also that they’re stretching themselves out of their own comfort zone. Without opportunities to be creative, those moments can seem few and far between.
The problem, however, is that challenging the status quo can be intimidating for leaders — regardless of how long your business has been in existence. Fortunately, there are simple ways to spark creativity within your team. Here are six of the best for instilling a culture of creativity:
- Create a stimulating work environment.
Depending on your company’s culture, this could vary. For example, Zappos has achieved this by maintaining an open environment, removing red tape, and allowing employees to create their own workplaces. If you have a moment, search for images of Zappos’ corporate office. It’s definitely not what you would imagine a typical workplace looks like; it’s crammed full of personal items, and the walls are plastered with posters.
For the Zappos team, this creates a stimulating work environment that sparks creativity while encouraging individuality and a collaborative spirit. But you don’t have to go to that extreme. You can start small by placing plants throughout the office, harnessing the power of art, playing music in the background, and designing your workplace to have communal areas full of vivid colors.
Perhaps, most importantly, give team members the resources they need to ignite fresh, innovative ideas. For instance, I’ve built a library containing some of the best books on creativity so my team can readily access inspiration when they need it.
- Empower with autonomy and flexible schedules.
Mandatory 9-to-5 schedules and micromanagement will only stifle employees’ creativity. We all have our own ways of working and solving problems. We also all have different times when we’re most productive. Just because you’re most productive in the morning doesn’t mean everyone on your team is. Additionally, your teammates may approach a task differently than you do.
As long as they’re delivering high-quality work and meeting deadlines, give your teammates a chance to spread their wings. Of course, this should be within reason, but remember: You’re there to provide guidance, not to be seen as an overbearing and controlling boss. Encourage ownership and the freedom and flexibility to work when, where, and how they want. A change of scenery — and pace — can keep people happy, productive, and creative.
- Encourage breaks.
Studies have found that if you want to be more creative, you need to schedule breaks. We’re not robots. Our brains need to stop what we’re doing so we can rest and recharge. During these breaks, you can go for a walk, self-reflect, read, doodle, or participate in team activities like brainstorming sessions, games, or volunteering.
In other words, don’t create a culture where your team feels pressured to work nonstop. Instead, build a workplace where it’s acceptable for employees to take breaks throughout the day. This gives people a chance to clear their heads and develop new solutions to problems.
- Build a diverse team.
It’s not uncommon for leaders to hire individuals who act and think the way they do. The appeal is understandable: Having a homogeneous team may reduce conflicts within your workplace because there may be fewer personality clashes or misunderstandings. However, it also breeds a boring, uninspired environment.
By surrounding yourself with people who have various backgrounds, opinions, strengths, and skills, you’re opening yourself up to different ideas and perspectives that can lead to a wide range of unique and exciting opportunities. Remember, you can’t do anything differently if everyone thinks the same way.
- Rethink your approach to meetings.
This may be difficult to hear — and your team may not bring this to your attention — but most meetings are unproductive. Even worse, employees dread meetings because they pull them away from more important work.
Before scheduling a meeting, make sure it’s absolutely necessary. You may be able to address a topic via email, Slack, or a project management tool. If you must call a meeting, prepare an agenda, and find ways to keep your audience engaged. (I prefer funny stories and singalongs to break up the monotony.) Also, consider holding it somewhere other than a bland, stuffy conference room. Hold more standing or walking meetings, or simply take your session into the great outdoors.
- Embrace failure.
No one truly likes to fail. It can drag you down mentally and physically. At the same time, failure gets a raw deal. Even though it hurts, it’s one of the best and most effective ways to learn and grow.
Don’t be afraid to let your teammates experiment and try new things. If something doesn’t work, they can learn what went wrong and try again. Who knows? The second time around, they may knock it out of the park. But the truth is that they may not have been so successful if they hadn’t stumbled during their first attempt.
Inspiring creativity within your team isn’t a luxury. It’s imperative if you want to boost employee productivity and stay top of mind with your customers — and thrive as a business for years to come. While it may be intimidating initially, these techniques show it’s not as overwhelming as you may have thought. Who knows? You may even have some fun along the way.
If you’ve inspired creativity within your organization, how were you able to accomplish that?
March 10, 2019 at 07:34AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs