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10 Ways to Get More Creativity From Your Team

Creativity
Are you getting the most from your team? In our consultations with executive clients I hear many complaints about the slowness of teams - it takes time and hard work to build alignment across a team. There is recognition that teamwork offers huge rewards in the end but many get frustrated with the amount of time and effort required to make teams work well.

One of the ways to get an immediate return is to leverage the innate creativity of teams. Many leaders try to solve challenging problems alone, but teams can do much better than individuals in coming up with creative solutions to difficult problems. In our fast changing world, innovative solutions are the source of your competitive advantage.

The following points are designed as a checklist to help leaders create an environment that will foster creativity and innovation within your teams.

1. Establish Clear Outcomes

You will derive the best results from your teams when members clearly understand what is expected of them. They need to understand both the overall big picture and vision for the organization, as well as your expectations of them operationally (what results / deliverables you want from them.) Read more about how to build a compelling vision.

2. Believe in the Capabilities Your Team

As the leader, you need to expect the best from your team, keeping your expectations high and realistic. This is a challenging balancing act, but people need to be inspired to perform at their best. In terms of creativity - a group is more likely to come up with innovative solutions if you believe that they can. However your optimism and strength need to be realistic. Raise the bar for top performance, one step at a time.

3. Encourage and Respect New Thinking

It takes courage to bring up a new idea or a fresh perspective within a team. Creativity is a mindset that needs to be championed and valued by the leader. Make sure that you are open to new ideas, and that you suspend judgment during the idea generation phase. Encourage people to build on ideas, not tear them down. Dismissing ideas too soon is a sure way of losing the best solutions and suppressing creative thinking.

4. Hold Regular Brainstorming Sessions

Brainstorming is a great way to get lots of new ideas on the table. Operate within clear brainstorming rules: go for quantity not quality, don't evaluate, defer judgment, appoint a scribe to capture the ideas verbatim on a flip chart and tagging on or combining ideas is OK - the wilder the better.

5. Strengthen Relationships

Creativity is generated when you have a collaborative environment. Collaboration can only exist when there is trust between team members. The leader sets the tone, so make sure you encourage, recognize and reward collaboration and interdepartmental communication.

6. "Empower Your Employees"

An easy thing to say but much more difficult to do. We could write an ezine just on this one topic. Start by sharing more of the decision making with lower levels in the organization. Read more about how to motivate a team.

7. Hire for Creativity

During the interview cycle make sure you recruit people that have creative ability. Hiring groups of people who all think alike will not generate new ideas.

8. Encourage Risk Taking

Encourage your people to take risks, recognizing that at times mistakes will be made. It is critical that employees know that, so long as they take the appropriate steps to maximize success, failures will be seen as opportunities, for new learning, not blame. Fear is on the other side of the coin from creativity. Its up to management to recognize and acknowledge that fear is present and to set the tone that risks need to be taken anyway.

9. Build Diverse Teams

Diversity of backgrounds, thinking, experience and culture is the key to creativity. Although it is more difficult to build alignment and consensus among a group of divergent thinkers, you will get better ideas and ultimately more upside from a diverse team.

10. Have Fun

Humor is a fuel of creativity. Make sure you fuel the fire of creativity by encouraging laughter and play. The key here is to maintain respectful interactions. Read moreabout running fun and effective meetings.

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