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There was a time when creativity was associated with hobbies and alternative professions only. It did not belong to the domain of ‘serious’ jobs like business and leadership.

But we live in a different world now and creativity is a crucial skill for leaders who want to lead people better or support their employees’ growth.

Google encourages developers to spend 20% of their work hours on creative projects. If a profitable and large company like Google prioritises creativity, so should you as a leader.

A leader can help businesses grow faster by managing tasks and people with more innovation and creativity. Moreover, allowing creativity keeps employee morale high and develops a positive work culture.

When employees feel supported and valued, they are more likely to contribute their best ideas and work collaboratively towards achieving common goals.

Conversely, a hostile work environment can harm employee morale and well-being, resulting in decreased productivity and limited scope for innovation.

Ultimately, this can hurt the organization's revenue and profitability.

The only way to get out of such a negative scenario is to deploy leadership skills to motivate the employees and allow space to nurture and encourage creativity.

The following section of this article will focus on the steps to deploy leadership skills to improve employee creativity in an organization.

5 Effective ways to improve employee creativity

Here are five effective ways to improve employee creativity in the workplace.

1. Establish clear goals and expectations

Every individual or employee in a team should understand their role. They need to know what their managers expect from them.

Creating clarity by explaining a person’s role is essential to omit confusion and establish a good work environment.

Establish clear goals and expectations

Employees adopt innovative thinking when they understand their roles well. When there is confusion regarding the role in a team, a person cannot integrate his creative ideas into a process.

A leader's job is to give the employees clarity in understanding their roles. To do this, a leader must understand the team members' strengths, weaknesses, and potential. So that they can assign tasks according to the merits of the team members.

Once a leader knows about each team member’s strengths, it’s possible to establish clear goals and expectations. And not only that but also write down and assign these goals in easily accessible content planners.

Having clear goals and a place to reference them helps organizations drive better employee results and higher productivity.

Creating clear goals keeps the employees happy, which further motivates them to showcase creativity. And the organization experiences a sharp growth in production at the end of the day in such a scenario.

2. Encourage collaboration and open dialogue

Creativity seeks encouragement and recognition. The absence of these two things will fetch a lack of motivation to think out-of-the-box. Therefore, leaders should recognize employees' creativity and encourage them to maintain innovative approaches.

Leaders can only encourage and recognize creativity when they are open to dialogue. This could mean having an open-door policy, and responding promptly to questions, emails, or conversations. And actually helping employees out when they’re stuck.

In many businesses, employees need help to reach top leadership for various reasons. And a lack of communication will lead to a negative environment within the organization.

Leaders should maintain a positive attitude in the workplace to create a positive atmosphere. A positive attitude makes the leaders approachable to the team members. Workers in your organization will reach out to discuss problems and concerns. Moreover, they will try showcasing their innovations to impress the leadership.

Besides recognizing creativity, the management should encourage collaboration. Leaders can do this by arranging group discussions, workshops, and events to help employees socialize and connect outside the workplace.

Such practices develop a healthy work atmosphere where employees are encouraged to showcase their creative skills. Such activities also help develop team bonding which encourages collaboration.

So, how can team leaders improve employee collaboration within an organization? Here’s how

  • Create a supportive environment: The team leaders should develop a supportive environment to encourage the members to collaborate and accomplish their jobs.
  • Communication platforms: The team leaders should further offer communication platforms to the employees to support them in collaborations. Some of these platforms are tools like Slack, Asana, Trello, or company chat tools.
  • Encourage group discussions: The leadership should encourage the members to discuss various tasks and goals in group discussion sessions to accomplish the projects.
  • Listen to the Ideas: Management with a positive attitude always listens to the employees to improve productivity and support creative contributions.

3. Foster a safe environment where risk-taking is rewarded

In a business environment, taking risks is common which often brings fear. People fear taking risks and keep their creativity suppressed. A leader must assess the risks carefully and allow team members to remain innovative with their working approaches.

Foster a safe environment where risk-taking is rewarded

Rewarding risk-taking skills is the best way to overcome the fear of risk. The leader must recognize employees with a more practical approach to taking risks. Failure can sometimes happen, but having zero fear of taking risks can bring revolutionary changes to the organization's work culture.

Some ways to encourage reasonable risk-taking include:

  • Creating a culture of trust: Build a culture where employees feel safe to voice their opinions and ideas without fear of retribution or judgment.
  • Encouraging experimentation: Provide employees with opportunities to experiment and try out new approaches without fear of failure or negative consequences.
  • Offering incentives: Reward employees who take risks and come up with innovative solutions that contribute to the success of the organization.
  • Recognizing and celebrating successes: Acknowledge and celebrate the successes that result from taking calculated risks. This will help build confidence and encourage further risk-taking.
  • Providing resources and support: Offer employees the resources and support they need to take risks, such as training, coaching, and mentorship programs. This will help them feel more confident and prepared to take on new challenges.

By fostering a safe environment where risk-taking is rewarded, leaders can help to overcome the fear of risk and encourage a more innovative and creative workplace culture.

4. Host team brainstorming sessions

Creativity is a natural human trait though people tend to lose this ability through routine and too much control over their daily tasks.

However, it is possible to make employees become more creative.

One way is by having leaders host brainstorming sessions with their teams. Brainstorming is a technique used by leaders to encourage employees to generate creative and innovative ideas.

During brainstorming sessions, employees are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas, regardless of how unconventional or risky they may seem. By creating a non-judgmental environment where all ideas are welcome, leaders can inspire employees to think outside the box and come up with new and innovative solutions to problems.

So, what are the benefits of brainstorming sessions? Let’s find out:

  • Brainstorming sessions help break down the stereotypical approaches to solving the challenges. A team can find innovative ideas to deal with complex challenges.
  • The session gives a platform for exchanging ideas. Team members discuss different ideas and find a unified solution to the challenges ahead.
  • A brainstorming session can prove an effective tool to omit redundancy in project management. Managing a project can be interesting for a team, eventually enhancing productivity.
  • At times, brainstorming also helps the teams assess their mistakes and find creative solutions to overcome them.

The leadership team in an organization has a crucial role in arranging brainstorming sessions. A leader must know the following brainstorming technique or strategies.

  1. Brain writing: The team leader typically shares the brainstorming topic in brainwriting sessions. The participants write their ideas down and submit copies to the team leaders. The technique helps team leaders obtain unique ideas from each participant in a meeting.
  2. Figuring storming: The figuring storming session asks participants to imagine certain scenarios. How would a team member react in that scenario? The brainstorming process is typically beneficial for teams that deal with monotonous tasks.
  3. Round robin: The team members form a circle to discuss the brainstorming topic in the round-robin method. Once a person finishes his speech, the person next to him will start delivering his ideas through a speech.
  4. Stepladder technique: Introduced in 1922, the stepladder technique has become a popular brainstorming strategy for corporate leaders. The leader delivers the topic to the team, and only two members start the initial discussion. Other members join one by one at certain intervals to enrich the discussion with new ideas. The brainstorming session omits bias from a process and improves the productivity of the brainstorming sessions.

Leaders in an organization should encourage employees to join various creative workshops and short-term creativity learning or content writing courses to nurture their creative skills.

5. Recognizing and reward creative contributions

Leaders should constantly and without bias evaluate the contributions of the team members. Identifying employee creativity and rewarding the creative members are crucial to creating an atmosphere where creativity is encouraged.

Rewarding the creative members will motivate them to continue with their innovative approaches. Moreover, it will create healthy competition within the organization.

A leader can reward creative contributors in different manners, which are discussed in the following section.

  • Recognizing: The most crucial thing is recognition, which motivates creative contributors immensely. You should recognize and appreciate the contributors in weekly team meetings to encourage them.
  • Rewarding: Rewarding the creative contributors is essential, and rewards may vary depending on the situation. A persistent, creative contributor deserves a salary hike. On the other hand, promotion may also appear as a crucial reward for the employees.
  • Team lunch: At times, team leaders may find that the whole team has worked in an out-of-the-box approach. The team deserves a treat from the managers or leaders for both refreshment and encouragement.
  • New roles: Offering new roles to creative contributors is another way of recognizing their contributions to the organization. The new roles boost the confidence of the employees since they realize that management recognizes and trusts them for bigger roles.

So, recognizing a creative contributor is a half-job done by a team leader. Rewarding the contributors will make the full circle complete.

Examples of organizations that support employee creativity

Many successful organizations encourage employee creativity nowadays to improve productivity and develop a healthy work atmosphere. Find some examples of companies that encourage creativity in the workplace.

1. Zappos

Zappos is an ecommerce brand that sells apparel and shoes. The company encourages employees to go adventurous with their creativity without considering the risks. The employees have fetched excellent results in return for the company.

Inspiring a creative work culture is also the company’s priority. A fresher in Zappos undergoes training to get accustomed to the company’s policies and has sufficient time to blend in with the workforce. The company offers $2000 to a fresher if he still isn’t happy in his job role after the training. The company has also arranges leadership training exercises like a 3-day culture camp.

2. Tesla

The globally known brand, Tesla Motors, is a company founded by Elon Musk. Tesla became a news sensation when it announced that candidates' educational backgrounds are optional. However, every candidate must pass the coding test to join the company.

Tesla values collaborations and the willingness to learn new things. Tesla motivates its employees to think ahead of the game by thinking innovatively. Here are some principles that drive Tesla’s growth:

  • Always do your best
  • No forecast is perfect, but try anyway
  • Respect and encourage people
  • Always be learning
  • Respect the environment

The most important of all being “Thinking Like Owners.” This boosts productivity and advocates responsibility in employees.

3. Autodesk

Autodesk is an innovative tech company with exceptional brand value in the entertainment industry. The company's vision is to provide optimum freedom to the employees to create a highly productive business model. The innovative advertising strategy of Autodesk has fetched a top-notch result.

Some years ago, Autodesk allowed its employees to attend the burning man festival to get more creative. The team came back after the festival and developed a Burning Man art piece. Autodesk always encourages employees to think outside the box.

How does creativity benefit an organization?

Creativity is an essential part of every organization nowadays due to multiple reasons. Globally recognized brands such as Google, Tesla, Microsoft, and many other companies constantly encourage creativity within the organization to derive improved productivity, eventually leading to better profitability.

So, how does creativity benefit an organization? Why is it important for corporate leaders to recognize and reward the creative attributes of the team members? You can find the answer to this question below.

  • Better way of dealing with new challenges: The corporate world is dynamic, and businesses should be ready to face new challenges every day. Supporting creativity helps businesses deal with challenges in a better manner. As a result, the business becomes more sustainable by changing the corporate atmosphere.
  • Team bonding: The leaders should encourage creativity to create strong team bonding. A team should have members who communicate well with each other and produce better results. Team bonding proves helpful in dealing with challenging situations. As a result, organizations can improve their productivity by overcoming hurdles.
  • Work culture: The organization tries different methods of developing a positive and healthy work culture. Encouraging creativity helps employees develop a good work culture. The employees know that the leadership team will recognize and nurture their creativity.
  • Find new Ideas: The corporate world is driven by new ideas nowadays, and a business will become successful if it can integrate creative ideas with products or services. Encouraging creativity is the best way to develop new ideas for unique and attractive products or services.

Final thoughts

So, these are why leaders must recognise and reward creativity in an organization. Encouraging creativity creates a sustainable work culture, which can lead to organic growth for organizations.

Most importantly, rewarding creativity and remembering that failure is part of the process is crucial. By following the tips in this post, leaders stand to grow their teams and organisations to new levels of success. And all through leveraging the power of creativity.

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