Creativity and your Workforce

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things”. – Steve Jobs

It would seem like the frenetic schedules and maddening pace of the business world seems to have sucked the very life out of people and the workplace. With so much competition it seems like companies have forgotten that things like happiness, laughter, creativity and other ‘soft’ aspects have a deep impact on the productivity of their workforce. We have been delving on the broad subject of a happy workforce and this exposition deals with creativity and your workforce. Companies that are focused on the customer and endeavour to constantly improve their products and customer service also have a forward thinking approach wherein they understand that there is a deep relationship between creativity and a highly energized workforce. Don’t you like it when you are asked for your opinion and given the leeway to execute a project using your creativity? Creativity also ensures that ideas are generated, errors reduced to a minimum and the service provided to customers remains at a high quality.

It is being observed that companies which don’t solely rely on traditional methods but rather have a culture of creativity, resourcefulness and imagination would be able to find better solutions and also remain ahead of the ‘herds’. Competition is never going to cease and in fact is getting stronger and growing in numbers with each passing day. There are ample examples of so called ‘new’ companies that have taken the business world by storm and posting mind-boggling profits that were not heard of in the past. The prime reason, it would seem, is that these new companies have been innovative in their thinking, have a small but highly energized workforce and huge amounts of creativity. Their brilliant minds have brought about new ideas and proactive solutions to address the business challenges that their customers face. The result of their creativity is there for all to see!

Creativity works in two ways – on the one hand it is the ability to conceive unique and unprecedented ideas and a brilliant imagination to put these ideas to practice and make them successful. The other part of creativity allows people to be more rational, they are able to evaluate their choices and only post sound reasoning and common-sense will they settle for a particular solution. The fact however, is that people may not have all these qualities – that would be ideal – but when creativity is encouraged, people with such a mind-set come together to bring about ideas, solutions and service that would leave their competition way behind.

Is your company, the kind that encourages creativity in the workforce, or is your company stuck with ‘tried and tested’ methods that don’t allow your employees to ‘stretch the limits of their imagination’? Well the truth is you are actually preventing and pushing away progress and success from your company. It would behove any company to boost the creative spirit and talent in their workforce. To encourage creativity among your employees the company’s culture and leadership must display an open mind – employees should be rewarded when they display this trait and bring forth ideas that may never have been suggested up to now. Leadership, team managers and others in positions that require them to be responsible for the performance of others must remain accessible and open-minded such their staff knows that they can put forward their views and thoughts without fear of ridicule and rejection. Not all ideas may prove feasible currently or even for the future, but at least the employees know that they are working in an environment that will always ‘listen and encourage’ – such an environment at the workplace will fire creativity and uniqueness. It is in such companies that brainstorming is successful and innovation seems to scale new heights regularly.

In the words of John Wooden – If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes. This is the basis of creativity – when people are thinking and doing beyond their ‘normal scope’ of work and thoughts, mistakes will happen. However, highly energized people will quickly recover from those errors, learn from them and move on to even better ideas and suggestions from this experience. The fact is that the current pace of the business world actually demands that people try even if they are not immediately successful – the trick lies in consistently thinking, having an insatiable appetite for improvement and creativity and putting into practice some of the ideas that may seem ‘out of place’ and in ‘unknown territory’.

Some of the companies that are performing better than others would have put their creativity and workforces to the test (among other things) and have emerged winners. This however entails that the companies would have refused to rest on their laurels. No person and company can hope to remain relevant if they are not moving forward and even ahead of others. Creativity brings about a clear vision of the future – when what lies ahead is clearly understood, the solutions and ways to manage it will be proactively put in place, leaving enough room for changes.

In the severely stretched economy, companies need to not only attract but also retain for a long time the best talent in the market. Companies that encourage creativity and empower their employees have a better chance at getting and keeping the best. Great talent is hard to find and you would do well to keep them with you rather than have them take their brilliance to serve a competitor or worse still start up their own company. Gaining, fostering and harnessing the high creativity of their workforce will prove beneficial for the company and also ensure a steady flow of such ideas and solutions on a continuous basis. Another upside of globalization is that with a varied and diverse workforce spread across the world, companies that value their knowledge and varied perspectives will soon become a formidable force in the market. Creativity also breeds respect and closeness among the workforce since the ideas will benefit all, thereby ensuring that each person encourages the other to work better. Negligible stress in the workplace means that people are happier and happy people are more productive and less anxious about their individual growth – they know it will happen.

To encourage creativity and ensure that it becomes an integral part of the company, employees must receive regular training, coaching and monitoring. Encourage your employees to attend programs that will help them to learn new things, gain new information and form new habits. Give them an environment that will arouse their curiosity and stoke their imagination, thereby making it easier for them to think ‘differently’ and provide suggestions that can be easily implemented with least effort but maximum benefits for all. As mentioned, not all ideas might seem immediately ‘sensible’ or doable. The management trick is to refrain from using negativity and judgement on the idea givers – such behaviour will thwart future efforts from the employee and others too. The larger number of ideas a company can elicit, the wider their choice and the ideas can be mixed and matched to arrive at seriously great solutions and discoveries.

Another great way to keep the environment energized is by introducing thoughts and ideas from outside – asking a successful professional to speak on subjects, sighting ideas that worked in other companies and other such activities. These ‘outside thoughts’ gets people thinking about their own situations and company and will be more willing to be part of an exercise to make their company more successful.

Like every other aspect of business and a company, creativity is just one part of success and commitment of the workforce. Take your workforce and their creativity – put them to good use and enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

Learn about a new approach to better customer service!

Interactive Guides for Superior Customer Service

Create interactive decision trees for customer service management, cold call scripts or self-service. Improve sales performance metrics and customer delight across your call centers.

Interactive Decision Tree