Managing Creativity in the Workplace
Tapping into creativity is a relativley recent development in the history of work. Older institutions shunned it and relegated to the arts and not much beyond that. But the current trend is to acknowledge its importance in all areas of life especially the workplace. From colleges to corporations the hot topic is creativity. Creative workplaces have the edge.
So how do you make a creative workplace?
The first step is acceptance. Managers need to acknowledge to themselves that their workers’ creativity is an asset. This may go against the grain of some managers who think that a creative worker cannot be easily controlled.
That brings us to the second step. Control should not be the fundamental concern of a manager. You’re dealing with adults. Treat them that way. You have to believe that your workers are there to work. Give them some freedom. It comes down to how you look at people. Do you believe they’re mosltly good or mostly bad. Of course you want to believe in their goodness. Then stop treating them as children and allow them freedoms. As a manager, you will surely be called on to step in, and I’m not advocating anarchy in the workplace, however, put some trust in people and they will most often respond positively.
The third step in managing creativity is to let your workers know that you are allowing their creativity. You can send the message through your dealings with them. Try to be less of a naysayer than a supporter. Encourage them in their creativity. Draw it out. In many cases, this will be easy. Being creative by nature, workers will easily fall into the role.
The fourth step in creative workplaces is to build creativity into the tasks. Even if the tasks seem to be routine ones, there is a lot of room for creative input. A janitor might approach his job in a creative way by how he thinks about his job. Is he just sweeping the floor or is he cleaning Mr Olson’s office so it is a tdiy environment? Allow him to see the ramifications of his work. Even on the assembly line, workers should see how they fit into the bigger picture. Then take a job like sales and you can see the possibililtes for creative thinkiing.
The fifth step in making your workforce creative is to be creative yourself. Allow your workers to see your mind work. They want to know what makes you tick. I guess I’m advocating for transparency. The more they can be involved in your process of managing the more at ease they will be. Of course you have to be ready to defend yourself and justify your ideas.
The final step is to avoid perfectionism. You just won’t get there. You have to learn to put the ideas on the table and choose the best one. You can make progress, but you’ll never be perfect.
Creativity is the process of freeing up the workplace. It doesn’t mean throwing rules out the window. It means honest assessment of the rules and being able to justify them. As a manager you owe your workers the best possible workplace, and they owe you an honest day’s work. By incorporating creativity you are on the road.