With innovation leading the way as one of the primary objectives for today’s businesses, it naturally follows that creative thinking among employees is essential.
Unfortunately, while a lot of business owners and leaders may say they want creative thinking, in reality, they seemingly do everything to avoid it. For example, many businesses have several layers of bureaucracy that an employee has to go through with a new idea or way of doing things, and that completely stifles the creative process.
The following are some ways to realistically encourage creative thinking among your employees, to help you be a more innovative and competitive business.
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Make It A Cultural Shift
A lot of business leaders don’t understand that in order to encourage creativity and innovation, there needs to be a cultural shift that happens.
You can bring in a third-party group to provide the tools and training required for organizational change, or you can try and manage it yourself, but regardless, the concept of encouraging creativity isn’t going to happen overnight.
Often one of the reasons there’s a lack of creative thinking in a workplace is because everyone is so used to doing their job in a certain way, and each department has a set of processes that are so ingrained that no one looks outside of the box.
If you want to liven up ways of thinking and doing things, consider having people periodically swap jobs with one another. Have people cross over from department to department and they may be able to come up with new ways of doing things or bring new ideas to an area they’re not as familiar with working in.
Let Employees Offer Their Ideas First
If you have a brainstorming session or a meeting where everyone will be sharing ideas, let employees go first. A lot of times what happens is that business leaders may start out a meeting with their own ideas, and it’s often just to get things started. What happens instead is that people will just tend to agree with those initial ideas rather than offering their own.
It then becomes more of a chance to agree with the boss, as opposed to actually bringing new ideas to the table.
Recognize and Reward Creativity
A lot of employers say they want creativity and innovative thinking, but then they seem to instead recognize and reward employees who stick with the status quo. You have to really put your money where your mouth is and make sure that employees are recognized and rewarded for creative thinking.
You want to praise not only good ideas but new ideas and show that you’re actively encouraging everyone to be more innovative.
Finally, if you’re an organization where mistakes aren’t tolerated, you’re also not going to be an organization with a lot of free flowing creativity.
For your business to truly be innovative, you have to tolerate mistakes rather than penalizing them. Of course, this doesn’t apply to careless or sloppy errors, but mistakes that stem from a genuine attempt to think creatively shouldn’t be punished.