How to Encourage Your Employees to Think Creatively

6 Ways You Can Encourage Your Employees to Be More Innovative

You want your company to stand head and shoulders above your competition, right? The only way you can do that is through innovation. You can’t be innovative on your own, however – you need your employees to help you. The best way to get your employees to be innovative is by encouraging them to think creatively.

Use these 6 tips to help your team think creatively.

1.    Give Your Employees a Reason to Care

Make sure your employees are connected to your company and its mission. You can help them feel connected by being transparent and keeping them in the loop. If your employees are involved in a project early on, they’ll want to follow it through to the end.

2.    Let Your Employees Make Decisions

If your employees cannot make decisions or act on those decisions, then they won’t want to come up with ideas. Allow your employees to come up with ideas and follow them through without having to cut through too much red tape.

Remember, when you’re being innovative, things can (and will) go wrong. When that happens, don’t be too critical. If you’re too critical, then your employees will be scared to think creatively in the future. Instead, encourage your employees to make decisions and take (safe) risks.

3.    Learn from Failure

With creativity comes failure. That’s just natural – innovative ideas fail more often than they succeed. Don’t let your employees get frustrated when their ideas fail. Instead, reward them for trying and ask them what they learned. They’ll be able to take what they learned from this failure to be more successful with their next idea.

4.    Keep Brainstorming Sessions Open & Friendly

Brainstorming sessions are a great way to encourage your employees to think creatively. However, not everyone is comfortable sharing their ideas with a group.

Some employees might be afraid to share their ideas because they’re afraid that they’ll be shot down immediately. Make sure that doesn’t happen by keeping brainstorming sessions friendly. If someone comes up with an idea that’s not plausible, don’t shoot it down. Instead, thank them for their creativity and encourage them to figure how to make their idea more realistic.

If someone does not want to share their ideas aloud at all, offer them other ways to share their ideas. Maybe they’re comfortable bringing the idea to their boss, who then presents the idea during brainstorming. Or, maybe they’d prefer writing it down and submitting it by paper.

5.    Prevent Burn Out

If your team is working long hours, then they’ll have a hard time coming up with innovative ideas because they’ll be too tired and burnt out. If that’s the case, don’t force them to come up with ideas. Instead, encourage them to take some vacation time.

You should also make sure you develop a company culture that promotes a healthy work-life balance. You can even consider offering telecommuting or flexible hours.

6.    Follow Google’s Example

Google allows its employees to use 20% of their time experimenting and working on problems that aren’t part of their job description. (Now, there’s the question of whether Google’s 20% is actually on top of doing their job 100% of the time, instead of 80% of the time. You don’t have to work your employees harder than necessary, though, because that just causes more problems).

As long as your employees are getting their work done, encourage them to spend some time finding the company’s next big idea.

Conclusion

To encourage your employees to think creatively and come up with innovative ideas, they have to be connected to your company’s goals and mission. They also have to have the freedom to make decisions, try out their ideas, and make mistakes. By giving your employees the time and freedom to try out new ideas, your company will be more innovative and stand out from the rest of the competition.