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How To Be Creative at Work

We often think of ourselves as being either a very creative person or not at all. We rarely see the grey area that exists between both. Most people actually fall somewhere within this spectrum of creativity and are just lacking either the opportunity to show off their creative skills or the knowledge on how to do so.

Would you say that you have a creative job? Do you think you have many opportunities to be more creative at work?

You may not have ever thought of this before, especially if you are in a position that is not seen as typically creative, such as accountancy or administration.

We don’t only see creativity as being present in very typically artistic roles like photography or graphic design. We define creativity as the opportunity for exploration, development and expression of original, different and/or innovative ways of doing things, allowing us to put our own personal stamp on our work.

There are many ways for us to develop and nurture our creative skills both in a personal and professional context. We are going to focus on the latter in this article so that you can understand how increasing your level of creativity can be a major factor in how you see and carry out your work.

What are the benefits of being more creative? 

One of the main benefits of allowing more creativity in your organisation is the sense of empowerment that your team members and fellow coworkers can foster. Creativity is not an individual thing. By encouraging creativity in your teams, you are allowing that team to bond and grow together. Nothing unites a group of people more than minds working together in the creation of something that interests everyone involved. From an organisational standpoint, the creation of new or unusual ideas delivers a positive contribution to the company and encourages other coworkers to foster their creativity as well. There are benefits for everybody!

Additionally, by allowing and encouraging space for creative ideas to flow, you are allowing your team members to express their personality through their work which encourages them to thrive and grow both personally and professionally. Employees will usually feel more like themselves in a more creative environment and grow in line with that. The idea of opening our minds with no boundaries fills us with hope and possibility, especially if we work in an environment that openly promotes a psychological safety that allows us to express ideas without feeling judged.

Why are some people still hesitant to make more creative decisions?

You may have previously heard someone say, or thought this yourself, that they want to share a new idea or method of doing something at work, but were hesitant or nervous to do so. This is often due to a fear of your idea, or you personally, being criticised or shut down. By definition, creativity is often originality. This means that you may be creating new ideas that are outside conventional thinking, so it is not unusual that there may be some backlash to some or all of these in the beginning. This is extremely important because of course, not all ideas will be amazing or applicable, but all ideas do have the potential to bring about change. Often times, a not-so-great idea shared among a group can evolve into something that is a better fit for the team and/or environment. For this to occur, two things are necessary:

    1. Having the openness to provide constructive feedback about any idea that is presented. Try not to be overly critical, negative, or dismiss ideas of your colleagues that might be different from yours. Open your mind to wider possibilities. Sometimes, merging various thoughts from different team members can lead to winning ideas.
    2. The person sharing the idea must also be willing and open to listen to that feedback without feeling criticised. It is up to both parties to work on their communication and listening skills to make this process work successfully. The important thing is to make sure your employees understand and feel that they are in a safe space for sharing ideas and new thoughts.

The key here is to think like a child. Children tend not to be constrained by worrying about what others may think about their ideas. This means they can use their imaginations freely.

Sometimes, people can struggle with creativity because they find themselves often working alone. Creativity is usually fostered in environments with many people. Think about how many great ideas can come out of a team brainstorming session, for example. This is one of the reasons why co-working spaces work so well. It allows individuals who work remotely to also gain the benefits of being in a more creative environment.

From a senior management and C-Suite perspective, encouraging creative decisions to be made at work can be risky. In certain contexts, too much is at stake to risk unwanted outcomes. However, it is important to find a balance between acknowledging when you should, or should not, be thinking creatively.

colourful post-its on a wall

How can you improve your own level of creativity at work?

The first thing you can do to be more creative in your workplace, regardless of what you do, is to think about how you can do daily tasks differently. Think about the projects you work on frequently and ask yourself how you can complete or perform these tasks in a different or more creative way. For example, instead of creating yet another PowerPoint presentation, can you instead present the information in-person, through a visual studio or even use another similar tool like Prezi?

Secondly, think about location. Do you have your weekly meeting in the same place or meeting room every time? Change it up. Can you organise an in-person meeting every once in a while instead of a virtual conference call? A new location can spark new ideas and get the creative juices flowing.

Look outside your own industry for ideas. If we always use our main competitors and other industry peers for inspiration, then we end up recycling the same methods and processes constantly. Sometimes, to generate new creative ideas and thoughts, we can look to other industries and sectors outside of our own and see if there are any relevant strategies that we can bring back and revamp to fit our own. Remember, creativity is not always brand new, original ideas, it can also be found in doing something in a unique or different way to the norm.

Finally, take a pause and break from technology every once in a while. Sometimes, by having certain information so easily and readily available we can hinder our ability to think for ourselves and therefore restrict creativity. Instead of scrolling through Google looking for inspiration for your next project, try taking 30 minutes in a meeting room by yourself, and/or some team members, with a pen and paper and just let the ideas flow.

two pens and notepad on desk

Creativity can seemingly be a difficult factor to measure. It is very subjective and what may be considered more creative to one person, may not be for another. There is a way to measure your own level of creativity through our Emotional Salary Barometer. If you want to find out what yours is and learn more specific ways to increase it, take our questionnaire here to get your full report (it only takes most people 6 minutes to complete).

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