No matter what type of industry you’re working in, creativity is the foundation of exceptional work. If you’re not fostering that creativity in your workplace, your team won’t produce the best work that they’re capable of. I touched this point briefly in one of my previous blog posts, but I decided that I should expand on this issue because of how important it is. Making sure that your work environment is a transparent and accessible space for ideas to flow will let your team reach new creative heights, allowing them to produce stimulating work at the same time.
Be a Mentor: I know I’ve discussed this point to no end in other blog posts, but I come back to it so often because I can’t stress how important it is to provide an avenue for creative growth. You simply can’t bring someone onto your team without providing constructive criticism and constant mentorship. However, you can’t micro-manage people either; you need to find a balance where you can give them a space to devise their ideas, and then see how you can help these ideas grow.
Have an Open Door Policy – and Mean it: Tying in with my last point, a phrase that is often tossed around by leaders when a new team member is brought in is “my door is always open”, yet this isn’t always the case. When you tell your team that your door is always open – mean it. Be available to them when they have ideas, suggestions or even just banter. Not only does this make you more human from your staff’s point of view, it also makes them more comfortable with you. This means that they’ll feel at ease when they suggest outlandish (and often creative) ideas.
Encourage Open Discussion: When you come together with your team for a brainstorming session, you should ask everyone present to throw an idea on the table, no matter how “bad” they feel the idea is. This open exchange of creativity often leads to some great ideas created from a thought that could have been discarded. A great idea is simply a bad idea that has been refined.
Reward Great Ideas: One of the simplest and most effective ways to foster creativity in your workplace is to reward great ideas. Of course, this doesn’t mean punish bad ones, but when there is a fantastic idea brought to the table you need to praise and reward these efforts. Don’t go overboard and give every admirable thought a new car – it can be something as simple as a cup of coffee or showing them praise in a companywide e-mail.
Do you feel like you’re doing enough to encourage creativity in your workplace? What methods do you use at your office? Do you feel like your team is comfortable sharing all of their creative thoughts? I would enjoy discussing this topic with everyone in the comments.