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3 ways to foster employee creativity

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As you think about how you run your company, are you giving consideration to the importance of creativity? Too many executives limit their thinking when it comes to creativity and blithely assume that it’s the purview of the design department or the marketing team. But in most organizations these days, creativity is what drives innovation—and innovation is what drives profits. 

If you’re not sure how to start fostering creativity, or don’t consider yourself a particularly creative person, there’s good news—studies show that everyone can spark their creativity in a few easy ways. For example, Stanford University researchers found that simple activities such as taking a walk around the block can increase creativity. 

Here are three ways to inspire creativity at work:

Reframe failures.

two employees at office

For some employees, nothing kills the creative mindset more quickly than rejection. When someone pitches a plan only to have it fail, it’s easy to take the failure personally. And if that happens, the employee might decide to keep his or her ideas private in the future. If you’re trying to increase creative problem solving in the workplace, there are better ways to operate.

Develop a culture where failure is thought of as a step along the way to the next great idea. When an employee pitches an idea that misses the mark, look for a positive in the pitch, no matter how small. Say something like, “That’s a great point. What if we take it from this angle?” With this approach you flip the focus to developing an idea rather than rejecting it.

Always encourage your employees to seize opportunities—errors of action are better than errors of inaction.

Focus on diversity.

It’s been proven that a diverse team enjoys improved creativity and decision-making. A recent study found that workplace diversity resulted in improved decision-making in 87 percent of cases. In fact, inclusive decision making improved results by 60 percent. The report also noted that when a diverse team makes decisions, they do so twice as quickly as a non-diverse team.

When building your workforce you’ll benefit from diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, and background. However, when it’s time to hire, unconscious bias slips into the process in spite of best intentions. You can improve hiring outcomes and reduce subjective bias by utilizing behavioral assessments. When you make hiring decisions based on candidate job fit instead of gut feel, your team tends to be more naturally diverse.

Brainstorm together.

Schedule a roundtable discussion over lunch with a loose agenda to keep the feel of the meeting informal. Give employees the opportunity to brainstorm on their own prior to the meeting so they can bring their thoughts ready to go during the session. While some employees don’t mind sharing half-baked ideas, other employees clam up when put on the spot. This format allows employees who thrive creatively on their own to come prepared and ready to talk through and build off of their ideas with the rest of the team.

Remember, as creativity flourishes, so can smart decision-making. Make fostering creativity a priority and enjoy a more collaborative, forward-thinking workplace.

Altruist

Erin is the content marketing manager at PI. Unbelievably, she's the only Erin Balsa on LinkedIn.

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