In 2019, LinkedIn identified creativity as the number one soft skill needed to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Human innovation is powered by creativity. Team creativity and innovation are essential to business longevity.
If you wonder what would inspire you to be more creative or want to find out ways to improve creative thinking, you’ve come to the right place. Often, creativity is influenced by habit and malleable environmental factors. Here are 10 ways to foster a more creative team.
#1: Boost Your Team Creativity Through the Right Office Design
Upgrading your office design is one of the easiest ways to improve creative thinking. Open planned spaces encourage casual exchanges because they’re less stiff than traditional cubicles. Google is a prime example of how a physical working environment promotes team creativity and innovation.
What would inspire you to be more creative at work? Likely the freedom to express yourself and a comfortable office space that feels expansive as opposed to restricting. Move the water cooler out of the passage and into an employee lounge. Fill the area with interesting literature and board games that stimulate the mind. Bring a sense of playfulness into your workspace.
#2: Encourage Outside Thinking
Most industries’ problem-solving frameworks are shaped by paradigms that turn stagnant. Cultivating innovation in the workplace necessitates an alternative approach and way of looking at things. Include your employees in the quest for innovation, and urge them to look outside the industry for solutions.
Creative thinking at work can be spawned by researching parallel industries, gathering case studies, or even hiring professionals to facilitate and embrace fresh approaches for specific projects. Don’t forget to enjoy the process. To quote Albert Einstein, “creativity is intelligence having fun.”
#3: Encourage Creative and Innovative Ways of Working within the Team by Creating an Inclusive Environment
Too often, companies misunderstand the true meaning of inclusivity. The term extends well beyond diverse hires. A creative mind meanders and connects seemingly separate things to find new solutions. To truly increase creativity in the workplace, employees need to feel comfortable.
Wondering how to stimulate creativity and innovation within your team? Create work opportunities that de-silo your organization. Get employees in different departments to collaborate on projects and free up time for social interactions. You don’t need to force employees to socialize, but creating windows of time for casual interaction helps create a sense of belonging. It’s also how you build a strong culture with a remote team.
#4: Make Your Team Diverse
Human beings tend to resonate with those who look and think like them, but homogeneous hires kill creativity. Innovation and creativity at work are fuelled by differences in perspective and background. It’s challenging to do anything differently if everyone agrees and thinks the same way. In fact, it’s a disservice that can lead to many oversights.
Diversity can encourage creative and innovative ways of working within the team. When we’re asked how to encourage creative thinking, the first thing we mention is the importance of team diversity. The more diverse a team, the broader the range of knowledge and diversity of personality, the more there is to extract information from and build upon ideas.
#5: Value New Ideas
It takes gumption to come up with novel ideas, let alone have the courage to share them. Team members that bring ideas to the table demonstrate creativity and innovation. Even if they’re not what you had in mind, it’s still important to value their contribution with tact and not shut them down.
If their ideas don’t work or aren’t suitable, you can challenge them to think more deeply about their proposal or nudge them in the right direction. Employees who feel their contributions are heard are 4.6 times more likely to perform at their best. Genuine equality and inclusiveness in the workplace are directly demonstrated through valuing new ideas.
#6: Encourage Risk-Taking
All successful entrepreneurs are calculated risk-takers. Inspiring innovation in the workplace requires an element of risk. Employees tend to be risk-averse if they’re unsupported, yet taking risks changes the status quo and nurtures innovation. Clarify to your team that you value creativity and risk-taking by being receptive to new ideas.
If you’re unsure about taking a big risk, start small and encourage your team to experiment with side projects. Be open to suggestions and feedback from employees. Having an open-door policy to discuss insights and new ways of doing things may help you find the next big thing.
#7: Encourage Your Employees to Self-Reflect
What promotes innovative thinking? Self-reflection. It opens up the path to deeper thinking. It can be deeply exploratory and richly engaging because it calls for meaningful discussions. Furthermore, it’s easy to get caught up in doing the work and forget about what your team is trying to accomplish.
Promote self-reflection check-ins. Thinking about how you’re doing the work can lead to valuable insights into productivity, group dynamics, and personal performance. If possible, also share achievements with your team, so they can correlate the results with their personal insights.
#8: Appreciate Your Team Efforts, Not Only Success
How does encouragement contribute to creativity? It boosts morale. While celebrating wins is important, acknowledging team effort is too. Recognition helps retain top talent and increases employee satisfaction. When it comes to using techniques to enhance group creativity, the rewarding effort shows your team that you value their skill, regardless of whether you win or lose.
They will also be comfortable to suggest new ideas, knowing that you’re fostering a healthy creative culture, as opposed to only looking for solutions that guarantee success. Keeping tabs on “the best ideas that didn’t work” is also valuable for the future. An idea that doesn’t suit one project may be perfect for another.
#9: Don't Brainstorm
Group brainstorming produces fewer ideas than when individually brainstorming. That’s because open-ended sessions require teams to come up with ideas out of thin air. To produce the highest levels of creativity and innovation in organizational teams, you need to provide structure.
First, make sure you clearly understand what challenge needs to be solved. Then, break into smaller groups or work as individuals to come up with a few solutions. Share these ideas with the bigger group and build upon those that have potential. Remember that creativity and innovative thinking in the workplace thrive when there is limitation and structure, and this applies to brainstorming methodologies too.
#10: Change Your Approach to Meetings
Rest assured, creative thinking at work does not happen in unproductive meetings. A study released by HubSpot indicates almost 50% of employees think meetings are unproductive. If you need to have a meeting, prepare and stick to an agenda to keep your team engaged.
Meetings should be as concise as possible, so they don’t pull your team members away from valuable work. If you can communicate via Slack or email, then don’t call a meeting. And, not everyone on your team needs to be at every meeting. If you need to touch base with a team member, schedule a quick standing meeting or go for a walk outdoors.
Where Do You Start in Your Efforts to Foster Creativity in the Workplace?
Cultivating innovation in the workplace is a process, particularly in industries traditionally skewed towards corporate culture. The first step is to have a good grasp of who your team members are. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses helps build talent management strategies to enhance your team’s creative thinking.
Detailed personality tests can provide valuable insights into team dynamics and reveal your employees’ potential. At the Trust Well Network, we have over 35 years of experience helping organizations and their employees perform at their peak. Click here to find out how you can foster creativity in the workplace.