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creative employees

Untapped the Creativity You Hired

How to find the talent and creativity in your existing employees

One of your biggest company assets is creative employees. The creativity from top employees allows your company to innovate, build, expand and grow in new ways. This is why employers pay millions to recruit top talent.

However, you might be missing the bigger picture.  No matter how creative an organization’s workforce might be, if employees are unwilling to speak up and express their innovative ideas to the organization’s leaders, that creativity remains an untapped resource. 

Luckily, there are steps both leaders and employees can take to use the creativity that is there, empower the employees you have and create new ideas that will change the world.

For Leaders:

If you are wanting your employees to contribute and be willing to come forward and share their best ideas, create an environment to foster that. Sometimes the best thing to do is lead the way yourself. 

employer listening to employee

1. Ask

Research shows one of the primary reasons employees refrain from speaking up is because they don’t believe their leader wants to hear their concerns or suggestions. So, start by asking. Ask for thoughts or suggestions to help the organization grow and succeed. Ask for new ideas for marketing, giveaways, or customer service. This shows that you value their input and are an active leader, engaged in growing the company. 

2. Praise (and reward)

It’s about fostering an environment where it’s safe to speak up, take risks, and promote ideas. Openly recognize and commend those employees who do come to you with ideas and suggestions. When employees see other members of the work group safely voicing their opinions, they are more likely to do the same. You can even go as far as to make creativity a contest or offer employee recognition gifts for ideas that are implemented company-wide. It’s not called bribery, it’s called motivation.  

3. Provide Resources

Some of the best ways to make sure your employees are equipped to contribute their own innovative ideas is to regularly share relevant information with them. Let them know what is going on and what direction the company is headed. Allow them opportunities for increased responsibility, a place at the “big kids table”, experience gifts to expand their skills, and the ability to think outside of their normal day-to-day responsibilities. 

give resources to employees

4. Allow Them to Struggle 

When an employee presents an idea that isn’t fully developed, don’t take it over and solve it for them (thus turning it into your idea). Let them wrestle with it, and bring it to you when they’ve worked out the kinks. Push them to figure out how to get what they need—on their own.

5. Create a Mentorship Program 

There’s lots of ways to mix individuals from different parts of the company and create a more creative culture. Perhaps you start a book club where you read a book on marketing or management and then discuss. Maybe you team up individuals for a task that don’t usually work together or ask several members of leadership to mentor new employees. Whatever you choose, find opportunities for your employees to get outside their comfort zone and learn from one another.

For Employees:

1. Seek out opportunities for growth

If you want to be a leader, you must find opportunities to lead. Look for opportunities for problem-solving, communication and persuasion. Volunteer to take on additional responsibility when it’s available, especially those that will increase your ability to build a relationship with your leader.

2. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it 

Don’t hastily pitch a radical idea and then get upset that you’re not being taken seriously. Instead, start small. Research shows that people are much more willing to comply with a large request if an initial, smaller request is made first (also known as the foot-in-the-door technique). Break down your idea into more easily digestible suggestions that can be implemented in stages. 

3. Develop resilience

Even in an environment where creativity is fostered, not all of your ideas will be implemented. You must have thick skin when your idea wasn’t as practical, feasible or brilliant as you originally thought. Rejection and resilience is part of the creative process. In order to get a few good ideas, you’re likely going to have some terrible ones first.  

4. Learn how to Network

Stop dreading networking events, and embrace them. Learn who the creative minds of your industry are and go talk to them, learn from them, and create a connection. These are key skills for leaders at any level, but can be important when you need a brainstorming buddy or a sounding board for a new idea. 

Give (and take) Ownership 

Sure, you teach your employees how to make smart, informed decisions. But if you still require that they run every idea by you before they’re allowed to make a move, you just destroyed the empowerment you worked so hard to create. 

Office creativity won’t come unless your employees feel like they are a trusted, valued, and impactful part of the company. This starts with trusting your employees and giving them authority to make decisions. It also requires those employees to take ownership of their choices, own the failures, and fix their own messes if necessary. 

When you make your employees feel like an integral part of the company, they will naturally rise to the occasion and emerge as creative leaders.


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