Let me clue you in on something. It isn’t about techniques or strategies. It isn’t about hiring more creatively gifted people either. The most important first step to helping your employees become more creative is to believe that they have creative potential.
So, once you believe it is possible for people to be more creative, coach them to believe that, too, by following these tips:
- Truly believe. Let’s start at the beginning — with the most important point of all — you have got to believe in others! Let go of your biases about them, and believe that everyone has creative potential. If you can’t see it yet, look harder. The rest of these ideas will not work if you don’t believe your people have the potential to be creative.
- Show them past examples. When we have low self-confidence in anything, we tend to forget or downplay past success. Help people remember their past successes. If you have personal examples of good ideas people have had, remind them! If you haven’t worked with them long, or are leading a new team, ask them to share examples of their past creativity. One of the best ways to build confidence and belief is to have personal proof of past success.
- Redefine creativity. We aren’t just talking about creating works of art here. Creativity encompasses a range of skills. Maybe your team members are good at generating new ideas and brainstorming. Maybe they are better at tweaking, adjusting or modifying existing ideas. Maybe they are best at implementing those ideas. In the organizational context, all of these skills are needed. While everyone can do all of them, when you help people see creativity differently, you help them believe they can contribute.
- Encourage. Everyone needs encouragement! Don’t forget how important it is to let people know you believe in them. Give them feedback. Let them see your belief in action.
- Help them. The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Alexander Graham Bell had Watson. Heck, Laverne had Shirley! Let people know they aren’t on an island. Encourage them to be creative together. Roll up your sleeves and help, bud don’t do everything for them. Offer them the space and resources they need to be creative.
- Be specific. When there is a need to be creative, help people know exactly what the challenge, issue or problem is. When you can help people be crystal clear on the task (and why it is important) they can focus on that task rather than on their insecurities. Once people are immersed in the task, their creativity will likely surprise them.
- Give people time. Too often, people feel that being creative is done-on-command. For example, in the middle of a meeting, people are asked to be creative, NOW! Give people some time and a chance to exercise their creativity on their own. Giving people time for their subconscious to work is always a good idea because you are taking the pressure off, and allowing people to create rather than perform on demand.
You, and those around you, have tremendous creative potential. It’s time to see and believe that fact.