Encourage Creative Thinking

Your team relies on you to set the tone. Different managers lead in different ways. But more and more studies of behavior and work performance continue to suggest that more creative work environments lead to more productive teams.

As managers, what can you do to encourage creative thinking and innovation?

It starts with telling your employees, and showing them, that taking chances and thinking outside the box is encouraged. If they see a way they can help the company, they are encouraged to do it, even if it lies outside their direct area of responsibility.

And if someone tries something and it doesn’t work, approach the failure as a success. We tried, and found out what doesn’t work. That’s a victory.

Once other employees see that failures are not punished or discouraged, they will all feel that they too can think more creatively.

Incentivize your team to come to you with new ideas. Create an innovator of the month for the person that comes up with the best new idea, and treat them to a gift card or free lunch.

In dealing with customers or marketing, employees should be encouraged to go off script and create fresh, exciting consumer experiences. That gets people talking about your brand. It should be encouraged and rewarded.

Finally, you can remove some of the structures and strictures that discourage creativity and innovation. Flexible hours, comfortable office environments with unique perks and features, fun and friendly inter-office competition may all seem a little outside the box when it comes to corporate culture. But these are small ways you can change the nature of work for your employees that will show them you mean it when you say you want people to be more creative.

Creating a culture of innovation takes effort. And it starts at the top. Once you commit to it, stick with it. You will find that your teams will slowly start to adopt the new values and become more productive.