Today, to grow and prosper, it is no longer enough to simply be good at what you do. With so much competition breathing down the back of your neck, you need to be different, to stand out. Businesses have to have a unique approach that would set them apart from everyone else, helping them to keep up with new technology and satisfy customers’ constantly evolving needs.
84% of executives considered their future success to be very or extremely dependent on innovation. (Accenture)
To achieve uniqueness, each member of a team has to open their mind to new ideas and start thinking outside the box. They have to unlock their inner inventor and find new innovative ideas that will inspire. This, however, can be hard, as daily routines, stress and lack of proper time management leave little time and motivation for creativity.
Companies with engaged employees have 2.5x higher revenues than companies with low engagement. (Daily Infographic)
It’s up to team leaders to help employees break away from their standard mindset and tap the genius within. By modifying their management style and picking a different approach, team leaders can help to reduce bureaucracy, limit stress by planning out deadlines better and encourage employees to unlock their hidden potential.
Only by breaking down the barriers of everyday routines and standard thinking, will companies bring their business to a completely new level. According to a study by PWC, because of innovation, companies’ sales grow by 69 %, while customer satisfaction rises by 43%.
So, what can a company do to engage its employees and evoke creativity and innovation in them? It’s obvious that these things cannot be forced unless you want to achieve the opposite results. The answer is simple – get the employee to form an emotional connection to your entity and its goals, or, in other words, make them actually care about it.
Here are things that can help to achieve this:
Make sure you actually have a “team”.
Creativity thrives when there are collaboration and teamwork. If your team is actually just a group of individuals working side by side, the chances of them working and creating together effectively are equal to zero. This is why it is so important to focus on your internal corporate communications and help your team members get out of their shells and start bonding.
By getting to know each other not just as colleagues, but as humans, employees build trust and start appreciating each other. This leads to fewer conflicts and smoother interactions inside the team.
The best way to achieve this is by setting an informal atmosphere. For example, you can organise a pizza and drinks afternoon every Friday, before the end of work. This way, everyone will participate, as technically it’s still working hours, and since it’s Friday evening, the toll on the business side of things won’t be as big. You can discuss different topics, play different team building games and allow new team members to meet everyone.
We promise you will be surprised how many amazing ideas can be generated over a couple of informal drinks.
Another great way to bond your team together is to try and have lunch together every day. 60% of employees eat alone at their desk while working, which doesn’t help them to feel part of a team at all. By sharing lunch and getting together, you help employees to feel like they belong and are part of a community. You can even take turns to bring a dessert or homecooked dishes, to get everyone even more involved and form a corporate tradition.
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your team’s success. Organise fun outings at least once a quarter to treat your team. It doesn’t matter if it will be drinks at a bar, paintball or even a picnic in a park, what matters is that your team sees that you appreciate it.
Encourage the “Eureka” factor
Innovation and creativity consist of a series of risks and mistakes. Without them, they simply couldn’t exist. For this reason, it is essential to stop encouraging your employees to make no mistakes and start promoting experimentation.
If an idea doesn’t seem perfect at first, it doesn’t mean it’s a failure, it simply means that it is still a prototype. By focusing on refining it and adjusting it according to consumers’ use and demand, your team will essentially help it morph into something unique.
Celebrate the knowledge your team gained from a mistake, rather than focusing on the downside of it.
This approach will also help to eliminate the fear of failure, thus prompting your employees to be more daring and experimental with their ideas. They will feel empowered and confident, which is exactly what you want them to feel like.
Plan monthly device-free brainstorming sessions, that would require employees to jot down ideas and discuss new trends. Prompt them to express their thoughts through sketches, diagrams and use coloured pens or pencils. At the end of each session collect the results and pin them on a “Eureka” wall, that will act as inspiration and motivate your team to improve.
Make it personal
It’s a well-known fact that people always care more about things that concern them personally. So, the best way to get your employees to be proactive and invest into being creative is to help them form a personal connection with your company – see it not just as a job, but as an important factor in their life.
Involve your team in every step of the projects you are working on, starting with goal setting and planning. Make sure that each employee is updated on all the company goals, wins and challenges. Be open to hear their input and listen to what they have to say. Always provide explanations to why and how a certain decision was made.
Don’t brush off ideas and say thank you for them, even if they aren’t realistic at the moment. Make sure that your employees feel safe about speaking their mind and sharing with you.
By showing your team that they are involved in the life of the company, that they can influence certain aspects of it, you will create a whole new vision for them and empower them to be more active and present in everyday tasks.
Honesty is the best policy
The fundamental base of any relationship is trust. Without it, there cannot be a successful partnership or collaboration. If you want your employees to be creative and to work together inventing new innovative ideas, then you should make sure that there is trust between you.
Each member of your team needs to feel confident in you as their leader and in their team members. They need to know that your doors are always open for them, that you will be honest with them and won’t hide important information from them.
Show respect to your employees and encourage dialogues, with multiple perspectives and different views.
Simplify their life
If you want your employees to be creative, you need to make sure that everything about your working atmosphere contributes to it. Taking time to analyse which aspects are acting as stop factors and what resources or tools would aid your employees in their work, will not only show that you care, but will also give you a better understanding of your team’s necessities.
One important factor to think about is your team’s working space. Everybody is different, some find it easier to come up with creative ideas alone, while others do it better in teams. This is why, if possible, it’s great to provide both, closed and open working spaces, to fit personal preferences and sociotypes.
Having a choice between informal hangout break zones, small quiet rooms and big conference rooms will allow each person to find a zone that would be the most fitting for them.
Another key aspect that can make a huge difference to your team’s everyday work process is technology. With its help, you will be able to not only give your employees the instruments they need to express their creativity but will also help them save time by automating certain processes.
Why not start by investing in a CRM solution? It can help save time on unneeded extra communications and make data management “a walk in the park”, thus providing more time to focus on being creative. It also guarantees transparent information flow and can help streamline business processes, making collaboration more efficient.
Finally, try to make sure that your employees aren’t burning out. If your team is working more than 40 hours a week, they will hardly be ok with putting in extra effort and will most likely opt to just get their basic assignments done and over with. You can be certain, that creativity will be the last thing on their mind.
As a team leader, you need to know when to share the workload between your team members and when it’s time to hire a new employee to fit demand. You also need to help raise the spirit of your team and help keep up a positive atmosphere, so that your team feels happy and calm.
Don’t be a boss, be a leader
Unlike a boss, a leader inspires his employees to innovate and serves as an example for the entire team. He acts on his words and supports his team members, directing them towards success. Don’t expect your team members to do things you aren’t willing to do yourself. Keep calm and make sure your personal mood never affects them.
Push your team to make their own decisions. Ask probing questions, that will lead them beyond the easy answer and stop giving them ready-made solutions, that eliminate the opportunity to think. Nurture their talent and help them grow as professionals and as humans, by supporting training, funding workshops and conference attendance.
A leader always listens. If you want people to follow you, you need to set your ego aside and learn to be one with your team. See yourself as an equal and allow yourself to be challenged by them. Learn from them and allow them to learn from you. Only by forming this special symbiosis between yourself and your team, will you be able to really create amazing things.
“You don’t have to look very hard to see that we already have plenty of bosses in the world. What we’re lacking is great leaders.” – Business Insider
Author: Nadia Ivanova, PR & Digital Marketing Manager at Qobo Group Ltd