5 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Your Team

by Mike O'Neill

Creativity is the lifeblood of any business, but sometimes, finding a spark of creativity can feel like a Herculean task. The stress of the recent pandemic has made it harder for creativity to blossom, but you can encourage creativity to bloom even during these stressful times.

Maybe your employees are scattered to the winds, working remotely and trying to stay motivated. Or maybe your office has just become a little stagnant in the creative thinking department. Whatever your situation is, you can encourage creativity within your company with just a few simple changes.

Dust off your thinking cap and put these 5 simple ways to encourage creativity to use with your employees. You may be surprised by what your team comes up with, and you’ll never take creativity for granted again.

1. Encourage Fun

Remember how easy it was to be creative when you were a kid? Creativity was as easy as child’s play, partly because it was just plain fun. You can help encourage creative thinking among your employees by cultivating a company culture that’s fun and engaging for every employee.

A relaxed atmosphere at work can help, but what can you do if some or all of your employees work remotely? You need to cultivate a sense of teamwork. Host fun weekly meetings, AMAs (Ask Me Anythings), and encourage employees to ‘hang out’ virtually to get their creative juices flowing.

It can be hard to let go of the idea that a workplace is a serious place, but it will be worth it. Once your employees understand that they can embrace fun and be flexible in their thinking, it will open the floodgates of creativity within them.

2. Reward New Ideas

Encouraging innovation requires rewarding those big ideas. Make it clear that thinking outside of the box is not only acceptable but it’s encouraged. Rewards don’t have to be significant. Even small rewards can have a big impact on employee morale, and that can boost creativity.

Ask for ideas from all your employees, then try them out. Or let your employees try them out. The worst thing that can happen is that the ideas will be failures, but even failures are good for creativity. Every failure is just an opportunity to learn, and one person’s failure may even trigger another employee’s creative masterpiece, but only if you keep tip number 3 in mind.

3. Make it Safe to Fail

When it comes to creativity, failure is simply a natural part of the process. Your employees should feel safe enough to try bold, new things without worrying about the repercussions of failure.

Too often, failure is seen as a shortcoming or flaw, when in reality, it’s the natural consequence of something that simply didn’t work. Remove the shame associated with failure, and encourage your employees to try bigger and better things in pursuit of creativity.

When you remove the fear of punishment over failure, you also free up your employees to learn how to gauge the risk involved with their new ideas. Removing the fear of failure helps your employees grow into better risk-takers, more creative thinkers, and overall happier employees.

4. Encourage Collaboration

Collaboration and teamwork can look like many different things. It can look like mentoring or group projects. It can also look like regular meetings to brainstorm new ideas. Thanks to technology like Zoom and Google Meets, collaboration is easier than ever before, so encourage your employees to get together and share their ideas.

Try and create opportunities for people with different skill levels and skill sets to work together. This can help employees combine their various skills more effectively and creatively solve problems. It can also help create a strong sense of team spirit among employees and allow them to work with people they may not otherwise get to work with.

Resist the urge to over-manage these collaborations. Freedom to experiment and try new things with different co-workers could provide surprising results, so trust your employees with their projects.

5. Grow Trust

If your employees trust that their ideas will be welcomed, they’ll be more likely to share them. However, if they feel that unsuccessful ideas (or any ideas) will be ridiculed or risk punishment, they will keep their ideas to themselves.

Focus on growing trust between your employees and yourself. When your employees feel that they can trust you, they will relax. When they’re relaxed, they’ll naturally be more creative. It’s a win for you and your employees when there’s a culture of trust within the company, so do everything you can to ensure that one exists in your business.

Developing trust among your team of employees is also essential. This means weeding out toxic people from your business. Toxic employees, even ones that perform well and bring in lots of business, can suck the morale out of the rest of your team and destroy their creativity.

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