Four Strategies to Enhance Your Team’s Creativity
Creativity – the ability to come up with unexpected, original ideas and solutions – is an integral element of innovation. Whether or not you’re in a traditionally creative role, every organization can benefit from more innovation and creativity in their problem solving. But effective managers know that you can’t simply instruct your team to “be creative” and expect a steady stream of viable suggestions.
While each employee is responsible for their own approach and mindset, their managers should incubate innovation with environments and processes that empower the collective team to tackle challenges with flexibility and energy. These tips and strategies will help you accomplish that and enhance overall creativity.
1. Cultivate open communication
Encourage people to voice their ideas and opinions. Your employees need to know it’s not only okay to speak up if they have an idea, it’s actually valued. When they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, it’s more likely to foster the kinds of discussions required to generate creative solutions.
As a manager, you may have to consciously work on your listening skills, in both one-on-one conversations and group meetings. Remember, if you always hear the same voices, you’ll always see from the same perspective. Gaining a different point of view can be the first step in charting out a new path forward.
2. Facilitate diverse ways of working
People have their own ways of doing things. Some people like to work in teams; others prefer to work alone. Some enjoy using a pencil and notepad to jot down their thoughts, while others always make notes on their tablets or make voice recordings on their phones. When you allow people to choose how they work – as long as they do their jobs and do them well – they’re happier, and that can prompt more creativity.
What’s more, accommodating different working styles helps you attract and retrain a greater variety of skills, perspectives, and talents. More diverse teams produce a broader range of ideas and insights.
Trust your employees enough to work in the manner that they feel most comfortable and help them identify when they do their best work. This is one of the top strengths to cultivate as a manager because it boosts team creativity and overall productivity.
3. Intentionally change things up
Expose people to different work practices to help them see things differently. Simply by changing one or two factors for a limited period of time, employees can start to see things from a different perspective, and that can help them come up with totally new ideas.
There are plenty of ideas for exposing people to different work practices. For example, you can take your team on a corporate retreat or pair up employees who normally don’t work together. You could also experiment with seating arrangements, designated collaboration areas, different meeting formats, and external presenters or trainings.
4. Hold guided brainstorming sessions
The key to an effective guided brainstorming session is to follow viable ideas through to a point where they can be fully visualized. Here’s one approach: After an initial round of suggestions and ideas, discuss each one with your team to determine which ones are exploring further. Select the three best ideas; then work with your team to see how you could develop them to create effective, exciting solutions or products.
Remember to keep things fresh with your brainstorming session formats. If your first attempt at guided brainstorming doesn’t seem productive, solicit employee feedback and find out where the blockages occurred. For example, maybe too many people were involved in the session, it was at an inconvenient time of day, or there were too many background demands preventing employees from being fully present. Continuously make adjustments to your method until the friction’s been removed.
When implemented correctly and consistently, these strategies can greatly improve your team’s creativity. And by valuing what your employees communicate, they’ll be more likely to trust you with new thoughts, innovations, and ideas.
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