Creatively inclined employees have become increasingly important in the work place. The pressure to think resourcefully, critically and wittily can even coax the creative genius out of those who don’t consider themselves “born creatives.” However, without a conducive environment to foster creative expression, how can employers expect those unique and elusive out-of-the-box ideas?
Many brands have conducted research in an effort to understand how to stimulate employee creativity; Google is infamous for this.
While there is no single formula that guarantees success all the time, there are specific strategies that if implemented, can transform work culture into a free thinking, innovative and imaginative landscape.
Fear not, with these tools you won’t have to redesign your office to mimic Google’s impressive play-like workspace. Rather, we’ve laid out some useful tips that’ll help flex that creative muscle within each employee.
Here are Six Ways to Enhance Creativity in a Workforce full of Various Personalities and Skill Sets:
1. Encourage in-person communication and interactions.
In some office setups it would be possible for coworkers even in the same department to go all day without talking to each other. This kind of atmosphere is directly in opposition to fostering a creative environment for a few reasons. It has been long since speculated that mood impacts creativity, and based on a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, it’s true.
Encouraging active mood states amongst co-workers and team members will improve their creativity and one way to do that is through interpersonal communication. Also, an environment where people feel free to communicate would hopefully transfer over to group brainstorming sessions, which leads us into our next point.
2. Structure your brainstorming.
One problem with traditional brainstorming is that not all ideas are given equal opportunity. Ideas presented at the beginning of meetings tend to receive more attention, whether they deserve it or not. One way to counteract this is to allow your team individual brainstorming and writing time.
Once everyone has their ideas down, combining them and revealing them at once makes sure each idea is given the same amount of thought. It’s also a good way to see patterns and make connections.
3. Allow time to absorb input before you ask for output.
Even before you ask your team for their ideas, make sure you give them ample time to research. Spend a good amount of time simply absorbing information without stopping to create anything just yet.
Because innovation is based on knowledge, the more knowledge you have, the more powerful your ideas will be. This includes using experiences as knowledge – exposure to new things puts more ideas into your subconscious, giving you more from which to draw inspiration.
4. Try psychological distance.
The construal level theory of psychological distance states that anything we do not experience as occurring now and to ourselves falls under the psychologically distant category. Applying this theory to creativity means changing the way we think about something. We think about things that we consider psychologically distant in a more abstract way, which we know is useful when it comes to being creative.
5. Place restrictions on your team.
This might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s not. New restrictions can force people to think about things differently. For example, Theodore Geisel wrote one of his most famous works on a bet that he could write a book with 50 words or less. The result of his efforts was titled Green Eggs and Ham, and Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, used exactly 50 unique words.
6. Think from a new viewpoint.
Creative people must be able to see things from different perspectives. If your team is feeling stumped, engage in a little role-play. Have them think not as people creating, but as those consuming. This will force him or her to wonder:
- Why would someone want this product or service?
- What are they looking for?
The answers to these questions will come as soon as they step into the shoes of the customer. These techniques can help encourage creativity in a worker that falls across the full spectrum of the creativity scale.
Applying creativity to every aspect of your workforce will allow you to stay ahead of the game, get more out of your team and foster a more fruitful work environment.