Six Ways To Give Creativity A Voice In The Workplace

Creativity is key to succeeding in the promotional products industry. So, it's no surprise that many companies invest a substantial amount of time and energy to recruit creative talent. However, no matter how creative your employees might be, if they don't share their ideas, their creativity goes wasted.

Joel Carnevale, an assistant professor of management at Syracuse University, says it's critical that leaders help inspire their employees to come forward with their best ideas. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Carnevale's six ways to encourage workers to voice their creative ideas.

1. Solicit employee ideas. Although this sounds simple enough, research shows one of the primary reasons employees don't speak up is because they don't believe their leader wants to hear their concerns or suggestions. Carnevale says one of the easiest ways to help your employees understand that you actually value and desire their creative ideas is to personally ask them to offer any thoughts or suggestions that they believe can help the organization grow and succeed.

2. Acknowledge those who speak up. Take time to openly recognize and commend those employees who come to you with ideas and suggestions. When employees see other members of the work group safely voicing their opinions, they are more likely to view such behavior as acceptable and consistent with the norms of the environment, says Carnevale. As a result, you're likely to find more employees willing to come forward with their ideas.

3. Give employees the resources to take initiative. Voicing creative ideas is a process. It involves the conceptualization of an idea, deciding when and how to communicate it and anticipating the need to defend or justify the idea after it's communicated. In addition to making sure your employees feel that their voice is desired and accepted, it is also important that you ensure they possess the diverse set of skills needed to navigate the creative process, according to Carnevale.

4. Seek growth opportunities. By seeking growth opportunities, you can not only increase your ability to conceptualize and communicate your ideas, but it may also increase the quality of the relationship with others, which can be useful when attempting to express an innovative or challenging idea. Leaders may be more receptive to the ideas of those employees with whom they share a closer, more trusted relationship.

5. Start small. Rather than hastily pitching a groundbreaking idea that involves a radically new way of doing things, ask yourself if there's a way you can break it down into more easily digestible suggestions that can be implemented in stages. People are much more willing to comply with a large request if an initial, smaller request is made first, notes Carnavale.

6. Develop resilience. Even in an environment where employees feel safe to voice their ideas and concerns, it is important to remember that not every idea will ultimately be implemented. Such situations might discourage workers from voicing ideas, especially when faced with the bitter truth that their idea wasn't as practical, feasible or brilliant as they originally thought. Remember that rejection is part of the creative process.

Don't allow creativity to lie dormant within your team. Apply the suggestions above to help unlock the creativity at your workplace.

Source: Joel Carnevale is an assistant professor of management at Syracuse University's Martin J. Whitman School of Management. His research focuses on employee ethicality, prosocial behavior and the dark side of leader personality.

filed under November 2019
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