Every individual cycles in and out of a creativity slump. Although the symptoms may differ from one individual to another, the post-effects of creative slumps are similar to every individual as their productiveness takes a plunge downwards. Organisations need to understand that creativity in the workplace is not limited to the creative team that consists of graphic designers, copywriters, or the marketing team (Refresh Leadership, 2018). Creativity in the workplace is vital for every employee who is thinking about new, innovative ways of doing things to stay ahead of competitors. This includes the marketing team that is working on an out-of-the-box financial analysis on market review for potential new markets, or the people and culture team working on guidelines in creating a safer, more nurturing working environment, which will contribute to the overall productivity of employees in the organisation (Refresh Leadership, 2018).
Now that you understand why every employee’s creative well-being is vital for an organisation’s success, you need to know how you can help your employees out of a creative slump. Below are simple steps you can take to address the topic at hand.
1) Identify the Blocks
Organisational leaders and managers need to understand that denial will be their biggest enemy as they ignore the team’s slump whereas awareness will be their best friend during these situations. Leaders will need to open the discussion to address their employees’ difficulties. According to Gerard J. Puccio et al, “Creative problem-solving sessions with groups with minimal training in creative tools and principles generated 350% as many ideas as groups without training; these ideas were 415% more original”.
The leaders need to ask critical questions and listen carefully to the issues. There are high chances that your employees already know a few problems causing their creative block. According to Dmitry Valyanov, President & Co-founder of Bitrix, Inc, the goal of your meeting “should not be to destroy all creative blocks, but to figure out what they are”. It is common for teams to talk through their issues and find the solutions to their issue as the process occurs. Leaders can also encourage two-tiered brainstorming sessions during creative slumps. This essentially gives your employees the space to have their brainstorming session individually before they come into the discussion. This way, everyone will be able to contribute to the conversation that you are having with your team. This particular step can help to ensure that every employee is involved in the process.
2) Get Rid of the “We’ve always done it this way” Mentality
It is easier to follow things that have been set in stone for a long time. The Refresh Leadership blog states that there “is comfort in predictable results. In many situations, well-established processes and procedures always work as you want them. However, when inspiring creativity, you have to be willing to step outside the norm”.
Following the saying of the late Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a US Naval officer, “We’ve always done it this way” is the most dangerous phrase that could be used in an organisation. Organisational leaders need to understand that if their employees are tied down to a system that is way too limiting, creativity and innovation will be stagnant, leading the organisation to fall behind its competitors.
3) Impose Limits
Organisational leaders and team managers need to understand that generality does not heighten creativity. According to Valyanov in Creativity Slump? What to Do When Your Team Gets Stuck, creativity is said to respond to challenges and not to pressure especially when there is a need to be met. So take the time to set out clear, achievable expectations for the tasks that you as a manager or leader is assigning to your team. Understand that saying “Just get creative with your ideas” will only lead your team down a rabbit hole of trying to figure out the expected outcomes which will end up in a creative slump. Limitations might seem like the last thing you would want to impose on your team on a creative project but, according to the psychology of limitation, it is common to feel paralysed by endless opportunities and ideations, and limitations actually help to take away some of the choices that are available and with that leaders will be able to stop the paralysis of choice that your team is facing.
Finally, it is important for organisational leaders and managers to understand that their employees need to be given the space to be creative and innovative. Rewarding your employees after completing projects will also contribute to better outcomes in their next projects. Try out these three simple tips aforementioned to fix your business environment and encourage creativity among your employees.
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Perry, P., 2017. Why Imposing Restrictions Can Actually Boost Creativity – Big Think. [Online]
Available at: https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/why-imposing-restrictions-can-actually-boost-creativity/#:~:text=Experts%20say%20in%20actuality%2C%20imposing,which%20must%20be%20dealt%20with
Refresh Leadership, 2018. 4 Ways to Stifle Employee Creativity. [Online]
Available at: http://www.refreshleadership.com/index.php/2018/02/4-ways-stifle-employee-creativity/
Valyanov, D., 2014. Creativity Slump? What to Do When Your Team Gets Stuck. [Online]
Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140828140254-7171364-creativity-slump-what-to-do-when-your-team-gets-stuck/