Sometimes the daily grind can affect all of us in such a way that we shut down and go on autopilot. When that happens (and usually it’s in the winter!), it’s important to shake ourselves and our staff out of robot mode. Here’s a few ways to encourage more creativity and idea generation in your employees (and yourself):
1. Encourage free play.
We’ve all been in those offices that are very corporate in nature and no one talks or speaks out of turn. Socializing by the water cooler is strictly forbidden and so is any type of informality. It’s no surprise that this type of environment is stifling and death to creativity. Liven things up around the workplace by encouraging social interaction (within reason) and adopting a friendly, positive tone with your staff. You’d be amazed at the difference it makes in morale and creativity.
2. Design “idea” teams.
Set up “brainstorming clusters” where certain groups of employees are tasked with coming up with new ideas to old problems. Adopt an “anything goes, no idea is too stupid” tone and you’ll be surprised at the creativity that arises when there’s that kind of freedom given. How often the teams meet is up to you, but once a week is a good rule of thumb. It’s important to not place pressure on your staff, and to keep your expectations light and easy. This openness breeds spontaneity, which is the wellspring of creative thought.
3. Allow for “shy” employee input.
Not everyone feels comfortable shouting out ideas. So to draw the quieter employee out and make it safe for him or her to share feedback, implement certain measures that let people remain anonymous. Some of these may include suggestion boxes, or a “feedback day,” where staff can write ideas down and put them in a confidential area in the office for you to read. Just knowing that they’re heard is a big step, and you’ll certainly solicit some worthwhile ideas and tips for running the business better or more efficiently.
4. Create a corporate culture that values creativity.
How receptive management is to change and feedback sets the tone. Let employees know that you support a creative workplace and out-of-the-box thinking by rewarding creativity with recognition and public acknowledgement, and that you don’t judge any idea – no matter how small.
Everyone is creative and has something to share. By fostering a workplace that is open to ideas, you may come away with some highly effective ways to run the business that you’d never considered before – and shake up complacency in your office at the same time.