“My brain is fried”, I catch myself thinking on a Wednesday morning. As someone who regularly produces content, it takes a lot of creativity and headspace. Occasionally I find myself in what we call writer’s block. Sound familiar?
It’s become essential for employers to help their people recharge their creativity and get their ideas flowing. After all, one of the most rewarding aspects of encouraging creativity and experimentation is that it can lead to results like better teamwork that end up positively affecting your business’ bottom line.
What exactly is creativity?
Creativity is the ability to find new ways to execute tasks and unleash new ideas to achieve potential rewards. It’s the act of turning imagination into reality. We tend to associate creativity with the ability to perceive the world differently, seeking patterns, and making connections. Ultimately, creativity is all about generating newfound solutions.
Creating at work
Whether it be delivering your brand messaging through marketing, finding a unique way to close deals, or troubleshooting technical issues, creativity can make your company stand out in today’s highly competitive landscape. It helps your business grow, move forward and improve with new ideas and innovation. The results of creativity at work may come in the form of new products, streamlined processes, and talent attraction.
Here’s what you can do to nurture creativity in the workplace:
1. Be specific about the problem, not how to solve it
If you’re leading a project with some creatives involved, you’re likely trying to solve a problem or achieve an end goal - whether it be illustrating a concept visually or writing with a voice and tone in mind.
A clear creative brief is a common and appreciated way to align requirements, but keep in mind that being too specific about how to approach and tackle the project will likely stifle creativity. Providing ample information to employees without being restrictive helps show that you’re trusting them to run with their ideas, which many individuals value. This will further unleash their passion and commitment to the project.
2. Flexibility and ample time for ideas to mature
Ever needed a break or a change of scenery when working on a long project? Even though we can’t necessarily travel the world right now, switching settings can spark new ideas.
I’m sure you’ve also “sat on” an idea and let it simmer for a few days before revisiting it. Yes, taking a break from a project can grant new thoughts and fresher eyes, particularly if you’ve developed “tunnel vision” or fatigue. That’s why giving enough time for creatives to revisit and polish their work is crucial—the key here is to align on time management expectations.
Granting flexibility for creatives, especially when working at home, can be the single most impactful action to nurture creativity. When people enjoy ownership over their timetable, they’re able to navigate projects according to different moods, circumstances, and productivity patterns. Don’t forget that flexibility also applies to equipment. Progressive employers should support and allow employees to choose the daily technologies they prefer to work with.
3. New perspectives: sharing is caring
Companies that maintain high forms of collaboration reap better solutions. To encourage the regular exchange of ideas, allow project owners to spend time seeking opinions from other stakeholders and embed this into the regular creative process. By understanding what other people value and have accomplished, creatives are inspired to develop new approaches to problem-solving. Not only does this allow others to stimulate new thoughts and challenge their viewpoint, but this strengthens relationships as well.
Company initiatives such as Lunch and Learns, skill-sharing workshops, and even monthly team evaluations encourage self-reflection and offer employees a chance to tap into new skills or methods to solve problems.
4. Creative freedom and risk-taking
Creatives value freedom at work. With the liberty to explore and think out of the box, original ideas can easily take shape. As most of us know, curiosity is the best mental state for brewing new insights—nothing kills creativity like a conservative, risk-averse environment that urges you to play it safe.
Most employees appreciate it when encouraged to take risks. They often want to channel their inner inventiveness and bring something fresh to the world. When it comes to receiving ideas, try and understand the intentions and reasoning behind the idea to get the full perspective of where your creative team is coming from.
Remember: you can’t force epiphanies, but you can inspire inspiration. Instead of binding your employees with rigid “must-do” lists, try being flexible about how they can approach problems when it comes to specific projects. Although experimentation comes with risks, challenging the status quo will allow for unique solutions that could unlock new opportunities and growth. Let curiosity lead the way!