Creative Power – Ten Ways to Energize Your Teams
In my consultations with clients I hear many complaints about the challenge of getting teams to work together well. There is recognition that teamwork offers huge rewards but also frustration with the personal experience of working within teams.
One of the ways to improve teamwork is to leverage the power of creativity. Teams have an innate ability to be creative, but it needs to be encouraged by the leader.
“If you want teamwork, give the team work to do that requires a team”
To unleash the creative power within your team, identify a new project that requires each member of the team to contribute and be creative. Then use a collaborative leadership style to fuel the creative fire of your team.
Here are the top ten ways you can fuel that creative fire!
1. Establish clear outcomes for teamwork. 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.)
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 flipchart and tagging on or combining ideas is OK – the wilder the better.
5. Strengthen relationships. Encourage open communication by being open and trusting of your team. Provide opportunities for team members to get to know you and each other on a more personal level.
6. Empower your employees. An easy thing to say but much more difficult to do. Start by sharing more of the decision making with your team. Let the team decide a solution for a challenging problem – they may surprise you with their creativity.
7. Reward and Recognize. On a regular basis, take the time to recognize the accomplishments of individuals and teams. Praise is always welcomed, and people will notice what you notice. So if you do care about teamwork, make sure that you acknowledge it when it is done well.
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 learning, not blame. Fear is on the other side of the coin from creativity.
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 fuels creativity. Make sure you fuel the fire of creativity by encouraging laughter and play. The key is to maintain respectful interactions.