Employee Engagement: individual’s investment of wisdom, skills, energies, creativity and time in the work assigned.
This is No. 4 of 5 articles exploring specifics of employee engagement. We’ve examined Wisdom, Skills and Energies. Let’s look at Creativity, a talent every individual can engage in unlimited ways.
What Creativity Means (Definition)
Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods and inspiration. For business, creativity is not “fine arts.” It is the ability to look at standard ways of doing things and standard things produced, and to see something different. That novel thinking is creativity. Every business needs it to continue progressing.
What Creativity Brings (Value)
Employees’ creativity brings value to the workplace.
Innovation. If creativity generates ideas, innovation puts those ideas to work. Innovation includes analyzing, designing, developing, implementing and evaluating the practical output of creativity. Innovation proves creativity is valuable. The business that wants plenty of employee engagement encourages plenty of creative output. The business that wants maximum “return on creativity” applies process and procedure that turn creativity into innovation.
Motivation. Creativity that is recognized motivates individuals to produce more creativity: to think and see and hear and imagine in new, different ways. Frequent, sincere and public idea celebration pushes employees to keep producing them. Here’s a caveat: encouraging only “good” ideas has a limiting effect. Insistence on judging ideas before sharing them automatically cuts their free-flow. Quality is found before quantity in the dictionary, but not when it comes to finding valuable ideas.
Inspiration. Inspiration pulls from inside (motivation pushes from outside). Inspiration lures an individual to exert her creative efforts, to share his creative ideas, to explore what’s unknown, knowing that’s where the good is found. Inspiration comes from excitement of feeling the brainstorm, seeing the light bulb flash, experiencing novelty’s rush. Inspiration comes from confidence that creative effort produces valuable results. Coming up with a new idea fuels the desire for another new idea. And another and another.
How to Bring Creativity On (Actions)
Opportunities. The business that induces creativity is sure to have higher levels of employee engagement. Opportunities to appreciate creativity, to experiment creatively, and to enjoy creative freedoms provide such inducement. Recognize the wide range opportunities to break away from same ol’, same ol’ thinking, opportunities that appeared at the start of the digital wave. Creative areas present inside and outside the building. Many creative tools—pads, markers, toys—stimulate imagination. Emphasize collaborative conversation (rather than always only reporting-to-the-manager).
Celebrations. Celebrating all creative activity (not just “success”) is a great first step to teaching creativity. Recognizing new ideas and celebrating their abundance is critical. Keep in mind: the more raw number of ideas, the more creatively “good” ideas among them. Encourage profusion. The celebration of new ideas can be an ordinary action; I’ve known managers who had “New Idea Share” as a regular agenda item for every meeting. The celebration of great ideas can have plenty of hoopla; I’ve known managers who featured “Creativity That Worked” events in which successful innovations were celebrated with plenty of fanfare.
Culture Vibes. How creative is your corporate culture? Are the freedoms to be creative, to test one’s creativity, to speak up and share creative thinking inherent parts of your organization’s personality? To be a vibrant part of your culture, the opportunity and enthusiasm for creativity must be prevalent. It is possible for an element of culture to be part of the norm and to receive ample attention. It’s up to leadership and management to see that creativity doesn’t become so taken for granted that it becomes an “unconscious competence” and loses its power.
Creativity holds a key role in the formula for Employee Engagement. It coordinates with Wisdom, Skills and Energies. The final component — Time — will be explored in our 5th of 5 articles.
About the Author: Tim Wright is professional speaker/coach/facilitator with expertise in employee engagement and culture improvement.
photo credit: Light bulbs via photopin (license)