How employee creativity is killed at micro and macro level
Keep talking and nobody explodes!! No, it ain’t just a video game, it’s an ideology now. In every field, people constantly brag about being creative, but care less about giving independence to be creative!
Companies have long back reached a phase where creativity and innovation have become one of their core policies. How vigorously, they drive creativity and appreciate virtuosity depends on their Creativity Management.
Furthermore, due to deficient or unallocated resources, inexperienced management, lack of an integrated system, lack of training, companies fail to bring out the flair and expertise of their employees.
For small business entrepreneurs, too, their very expanse and finesse is defined by how creatively they stand-out in executing their objectives, even while offering the same product or service that’s already available in the market.
In today’s context, however, smaller businesses are marking great milestones and competing with corporate giants. This echoes the importance of a functional Creativity Management system.
Transformation of organizational policies (both at Macro and Micro level) on innovation management is the need of the hour, to stay on par with the outside changes. Here is a holistic approach to remove the roadblocks, that make employees’ virtuosity, quiescent from using its geniuses’ brains.
Following this is a detailed description of the measures mentioned above.
Creativity at Micro level:
In anticipation that your company has very good Creativity Management structure laid down, it can still slip if the loopholes at micro level are not unclogged. Some ways to remove the roadblocks and boost creativity at work:
a) Subject knowledge: Ensure that your team is fully knowledgeable about the improvement techniques and language of the organization. Enroll them to necessary training upon reaching a senior worker level, as it requires a thorough understanding on application of the techniques in combination with your process expertise.
b) Technical Knowledge: Having theoretical knowledge with no idea about its implementation, makes it feel like a tough nut to crack. Set time to improvise on your team’s technical skills.
Usage of different applications, software etc. Give them access to Improvement projects previously handled. This gives an insight on how things work.
Engage your senior workforce in training newbies, this way you ensure creating a new responsibility.
Basics of how your entire department works and aligns with the org-wide policies helps your employees get an overall picture. Imagination works only when we have a bigger picture in mind.
Diversity is strength! Creativity comes with combined wisdom and fortitude to execute ideas into action. Having a team with varied backgrounds sets a great platform to know the best from all.
Unless your process requires having only a specific skill set, its beneficial to maintain variation in your team selection process.
Working on the same task for years can stagnate the thinking process. Try swapping roles of your team members, and see how they generate ideas. Looking through someone’s eyes helps figure out what’s right and what’s not and what could have been better.
This role swapping process has many other benefits which can be discussed in a separate article.
Set a day to have your team/yourself update the record/ tracker with their ideas. Discuss and work on possibilities of implementing them. Sustain the process.
To avoid unnecessary expectations from this ideation process, encourage your team to work on a template (A project charter) that captures the following factors (See image on the left).
This step ensures that team members themselves visualize the scope and feasibility of their ideas turning into prospective projects.
Eventually, discuss the operative and inoperative segments.
6. Being approachable:
Being approachable is more than just being available to talk, its also about fair consideration of your team’s suggestions, feedback and concerns.
Employees speak their minds out only when their boss gives that push or initiates the talk. Speak with your team in a casual setting too, not only in formal meetings. Understand the dependability of your team on your feedback and approval for almost everything.
Being approachable is the bare minimum way of showing your commitment, support and accountability as a team manager. In its absence, people tend to avoid you or hide the issues until they are fully blown!
7. Don’t judge quickly:
Set your team’s expectations upfront. Explain in advance how the entre ideation-implementation-innovation process works.
While brain-storming for creative ideas, do not be too quick to judge the pros and cons. Your staff might hold back in expressing their ideas, and this withdrawal could become chronic too.
That’s why managers who directly manage the workforce need to be diligent. You ever know a little act can go a long way, good or bad! Be congenial!
It is a simple act of showing that you acknowledge your staffs’ hard work. Whether or not their ideas were “workable”, recognizing their initiative, offering thanks, implies they will have your support.
If you are a manager, you understand your role in being the actual face of driving innovation in your team.
If you are a team member, you know what to ask for!!
- Creativity is applicable everywhere!
- Do not get stuck in the daily tasks forever
- Develop free thinking
- Jammed workstations lead to messy minds !
- Question yourself on “other possible solutions to a problem. All innovation does not rise from necessity/ problem. It also starts with the alternative thinking,” why this? – why not that?”
- Improve your technical understanding of the innovative process/ Six Sigma methodology
- Learn basic analysis techniques like “Five Whys” “Fish-bone” etc.
- Even if ideas fail, creative thinking aligns your thought-process. So, embrace it!
Creativity at Macro level:
Revamp of organizational policies to make creativity inclusive. It can be achieved through the following steps.
1. Restructure Management:
On a macro level, every company needs to ensure that it’s stringent policies are not making the creative brains inoperative.
2. Revisiting policies:
On a regular basis, helps inclusion of all the unaccounted factors and strengthens the foundation. The aim is to develop a workable system for the initiatives suggested by their employees.
Fostering innovation should be one of the foundational objectives of a company.
Centralized authority paralyzes employees’ interest to be creative. When departments lack the freedom of free-thinking they tend to work like machines.
Disseminating the authority to the department heads particularly in making decisions about the innovation and know-how of their employees’ craft-ship works advantageous to the company.
It is rational because it’s the department’s head and their team that understands the intricacies of their own product/service. Every department in the company should have the right to be creative.
Stiff rules, especially on communicating and acting on improvement measures must be cracked down. Instead, every organization should find a functional system in working on improvement initiatives. Some areas where rigidity hampers creativity is
- Lengthy procedures
- Improper allocation of resources
- Long waiting on approvals (a side effect of centralized authority
- Lack of resources and training
5. Designed Process/ Dedicated teams:
Every company has a Research and Development Team, that specializes in researching new products/ services or in developing the existing ones. In some cases, this translates as “only the R&D team is entitled to/ functional in applying creativity.
Not entrusting responsibility to other functional disciplines in a company, leads to failure in unleashing the actual creative potential of the employees.
Designed process: The presence of a dedicated team that imparts knowledge on six sigma methodology is a great back support to all the employees.
An evaluation criteria to measure innovation is also necessary to strengthen the process.
6. Employee reward system:
To boost the creative spirit, engage and inspire the employees to be innovative, by rewarding them. The best way to foster this, is to allow EVERY employee eligible for nomination (if their project meets the innovation criteria / parameters). Limiting this privilege only to the higher /middle management leads to a discriminated workforce.
The INNOVATION AWARDS, boost creativity more effectively when they are treated as a separate category and recognized at organizational level. They should not be mingled up with the regular employee reward system.
Because innovation is the actual driving force of any organization.
LET CREATIVITY FLOURISH!!
Although the smaller and giant companies are incomparable based on their scale and expanse, the potential to envision their company’s future is greatly exercised by the smaller companies through creativity. Simply put, all employees are empowered to be creative and innovative.
All break through developments today were once dwelling inside a person’s 3-pound brain. Letting them bloom takes combined efforts of everyone, at all levels. Create a better framework for your employees to stage their creative thoughts.
Employees feel empowered when they are free to think and embrace creativity in the organization they work with. The resulting effect will be… open innovation gaining steady momentum!
Now, let us know how do you exercise creative thinking at work? Post your answers below 🙂