How to Spur Employee Creativity and Innovative Thinking

When it comes to strategy and creativity, many businesses overlook a significant asset currently in place – their workforce. Generally speaking, no one knows more about the company than the people who work there, and it’s altogether likely they have creative and unique ideas they’d like to share in a supportive environment.

Here at Baillie Lumber, we have long advocated harnessing the power of employee creativity for our organization. (We’ve also found that this approach fosters greater employee involvement with the organization.) Here are some suggestions on how to boost innovative thinking in your organization:  DSC1023

Incorporate creativity in your hiring process. Businesses that strive for diversity in their hiring practices are often a step ahead of their competitors, simply because they have a workforce of people originating from a wide range of backgrounds and experience. Encouraging these employees to help solve key problems results in a similarly wide range of ideas.  

During job interviews, probe the candidate’s history and inclination towards problem-solving. Ask if they have ever faced a situation where their input either helped or failed to resolve that situation. Ask if they have offered ideas on improving operations and processes. Their answers can offer clues as to their “creativity potential.” 

Break down organizational divisions. Depending on the size of your business, it may be that employees in one department rarely interact with co-workers elsewhere. Seek out opportunities to “cross-pollinate” the workforce by encouraging employees in different departments to mingle with one another, either in an informal atmosphere or as part of a special projects team. This helps challenge insular thinking and opens the path towards unconventional problem-solving. 

Support a “no bad ideas” brainstorming approach. Sometimes employees hesitate to come forward with great ideas because of concern over any negative consequences. “What if my idea costs too much?” or “Will my manager’s opinion of me change if I offer this suggestion?” are frequently voiced fears. 

Your job is to eliminate these worries by supporting brainstorming sessions where there are no bad ideas. The key to effective brainstorming sessions, according to Big Think, is “to abandon logic” and ask “provocative and ‘what if?’ questions [that] put us on a path to coming up with unique solutions to complex problems.”  

Let employees tackle challenging projects. Most companies have some internal operational issue or customer service problem that defy easy solutions. As part of your effort to promote innovative thinking, consider “giving an employee a really hard question or question to answer,” notes Forbes. “That task—and the lessons learned along the way—often become a defining moment in someone’s career” and also “offers an opportunity to see how much grit and determination that employee possesses.”  

Another benefit of promoting creativity among employees is that they generally feel more valued for their contributions. This in turn can lead to deeper employee engagement and generate greater success in a campaign to retain your most talented workers. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

Have any other thoughts on how to encourage innovative thinking with your teams? We would love to hear your thoughts. 

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




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