Your next biggest idea is likely to come from your staff. Post-it notes, digital projectors, and “Gore-Tex” guitar strings all started with an employee’s idea. There’s even a word for it – intrapreneurship. They all worked at a business with a culture of creativity. So how can you increase creativity and tap into the talent you have? Here are some quick and inexpensive ways to promote creativity in your business so you and your staff can uncover your next big (and small) idea.
Do your employees know it’s okay to be creative? To you, the answer is “yes,” but they can hear something different. One way to change their perception is to reward employees for out-of-the-box thinking. It might be as simple as the traditional employee suggestion box. Others businesses have formal programs. They may set goals for employees to come up with new ways to work better.
Remember, the rewards don’t need to be monetary to be effective. Recognition can also be motivating. That might come in the form of a special parking space, a traveling trophy, announcement at a staff meeting, or preferential work schedules.
You know the expression, “two heads are better than one?” Put it into practice by allowing employees to team up with each other. Knowing how one person solves a problem can sometimes spur another to come up with an even better idea.
Be careful not to micro-manage the teams. Set the parameters, and then let employees choose the pairings where possible. Encourage teams of people with different points of view.
Rearrange the Furniture
Creativity is all about seeing things in a different way. Sometimes, that means moving things around – literally. Take a look at your workspace. Does it encourage people (and customers) to talk to each other? Some businesses set up group areas with comfortable chairs facing each other. Others recognize staff needs a place to think, so they designate quiet areas.
One business chose a theme (innovation) and invited staff to brand their area by interpreting that concept. Here are some more ideas to rearrange your space and encourage creativity.
Take What You Get
If you’re going to encourage creative ideas, you need to act on them. That doesn’t mean you implement all ideas, but it does mean that you acknowledge all and provide feedback. The resulting discussion may help you discover a way to remove an obstacle in implementing the idea.
An added benefit of activating creativity is that it gives employees a sense of empowerment. They feel like they have a say in their own destiny. That makes for more engaged employees. And that’s good for your business and your customers.
Beating the competition means putting all of your assets to work—that includes tapping into your employees’ creativity. Consider these ideas to create a culture of creativity in your small business and uncover you next big idea.