Picture this corporate scene—lines of grey suits marching toward perfectly aligned cubicles… a dreadful image. This dreary picture of the corporate life persuades employees to alter their self-image, and even more drastically, their way of thinking into fitting the mold of the perfect business person.
Approaching this problem as managers, we have to ask, how can innovation and growth be present amongst this stereotype? It’s important to foster creativity and freethinking in the workplace, while also maintaining order in your office.
Here’s 5 steps you can apply in order to turn your quiet cubicles into organized fountains of innovation and change.
1. Formal Training
The lack of creativity around the office may not be because the caliber of creative people is low; they may not know how to express or develop their ideas in a clear and applicable manner. That’s where you come in, boss. Formal training in brainstorming, lateral-thinking, and mind-mapping may be required to help your team find an organized way to build their innovative ideas. By giving opportunities through workshops, group discussions, and team building exercises, they will begin to learn how to successfully communicate their original ideas.
2. Think Outside the System
Encourage your team to continually find new ways of approaching their work. Ask your employees whether they have considered alternative solutions to their daily work routine, and explain to them the benefits of trying different approaches to problem-solving.
3. Solicit Ideas
There are many people who are not comfortable sharing their ideas with the entire group, or office, so placing suggestion boxes around the workplace allows these introverts the opportunity to submit their opinions and ideas in risk-free way.
4. Be Supportive
Respond genuinely when someone offers up a new idea or solution. Even if the employee suggests that every chair in the office should be a Pilates ball because it “promotes good posture,” hear them out, and explain the practical reasons as to why the idea may not be feasible or how it could definitely work for your environment. Be sure to stay positive, and never reprimand an employee for what you may consider a “bad idea.”
5. Act On Ideas
Reward individuals and teams that come up with ideas, whether they be grand slams or strikeouts. For those ideas that you do plan on adopting—ACT ON THEM. There is nothing worse for an employee than to feel as though their hard work and hours of brainstorming have been put to waste. Supply the resources and time necessary for your employees to complete their new project, so that they feel their ideas and voices have been heard.
By following these simple guidelines, you as a manager will be able to create an atmosphere of innovation and free thinking that will result in an influx of new, creative solutions to everyday office problems. Check out this article from Business Journal to read further about creative road blocks.