Office environments, procedures and culture can make or break creativity on the job. Cubicles, white walls, micromanagement and strict processes often stifle the office’s creative spark, while good management and creative practices enhance it.
Thankfully, both managers and employees can work together to enhance creativity in any office environment. Managers must promote a creative work environment by implementing changes from the top down. Employees need to lobby for changes with their managers.
Office creativity is the name of the game, and the game is afoot. Use the following tips to jumpstart your workplace’s creativity.
What Managers Can Do to Enhance Creativity
“Many managers assume that, although they can assess productivity, product revenues, process quality and a host of other features of the work done in their firms, they cannot assess or even recognize creativity,” says Professor Teresa M. Amabile at the Harvard Business School in her research Creativity and Innovations in Organizations.
They’re wrong. Managers, in fact, can assess, recognize and enhance creativity by taking the time to understand employees who want to be more creative, and building processes with creativity in mind.
Motivation: Creating the Desire to Create
Managers must provide the right incentives to appeal to employee’s interests and passions to summon their best creative work. After all, most creatives are internally driven.
This internal drive means creative employees often view reward and compensation differently than other employees who do not put an emphasis on creativity. For creatives, seeing their ideas recognized and come to fruition carries more weight than traditional forms of compensation—meaning managers must clearly and frequently recognize or encourage creative ideas.
Nurture Your “Wild Ducks”
Strict procedures for communication, deadlines, workflows and other managerial and employee processes have their purposes. However, knowing when to allow employees to break free from them is an effective manager’s best quality.
In short, be flexible.
Know when it is necessary for your employees to follow the rules to a T and when it is okay to take the road less traveled. Then, communicate these points to your employees so that they understand when they can take some creative license with a task.
Technology company IBM is well known for the way they approach the management of their creative employees: They call it the “Wild Duck Strategy.”
The strategy is drawn from Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s instructional tale, which describes how a man frequently fed migrating ducks. After years, they grew so lazy, they flew less and less, preferring to stay close to the easy food source. Eventually, they found it difficult to fly at all.
The moral is that while you can make wild ducks tame, you can’t ever make tame ducks wild again.
Thomas J. Watson, Jr., former IBM chairman, took this idea to heart, saying: “We are convinced that any business needs its wild ducks. And in IBM we try not to tame them."
IBM strives to recruit creatives and enable them to work their best by not taming their habits or processes. Don’t tame your wild ducks, either. Be an ally and help them produce the best, most creative end product.
What Employees Can Do to Enhance Creativity
Creative change isn’t just up to managers. Be a self-sufficient creative and help your managers help you. By understanding your own creative process, you are better able to communicate your needs to a manager. Analyzing and pinpointing one’s own creative needs is a difficult task. Once done, however, it proves incredibly rewarding and useful.
To start, keep a journal and document your habits, tools and processes. Try your best to connect the dots and see if any particular habits or tools directly correlate to enhanced creativity.
Once you have a good understanding of your needs as a creative employee, schedule a time to talk it through with your manager. Discuss ways you can practice your creative habits at work without disturbing coworkers or company processes.
How you communicate has a dramatic impact on your creative work. Ineffective communication won’t score you the creative freedom you need. Pay close attention to what and how you communicate when offering creativity enhancing suggestions to a manager.
When working toward the same goal, managers and employees alike can help each other promote a more fulfilling and creative work environment.
What does your workplace do to cultivate creativity?
Improve Your Creativity Starting Today
Creativity isn’t a gift. It’s a skill. And you can improve it—beginning today. The Creativity Handbook for 3D Professionals is a manual packed with habits, tools and hacks that will make you more creative, more often.
This handbook has 25+ pages of information that will help you boost your design creativity and improve your career. Get started today.
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