Do You Want Your People to be more creative?

 In Employee Relationships, Leadership, Work Environment

Submitted by Rick Baker – Spirited Leaders

Bosses complain about people not taking initiative, not taking advantage of opportunities, and not nipping problems in the bud. Bosses observe people doing things right, following the procedures but failing to pick up the fact that in certain situations following the right procedures takes you to the wrong outcome. As the saying goes, leaders focus on doing the right things while managers focus on doing things right.

And doing things right means following set out procedures.

However, when doing things right fails to satisfy clients or collect the money or generate new sales or other such things bosses and leaders tend to become frustrated and complain about people not taking initiative, not taking advantage of opportunities, and not nipping problems in the bud. When this happens, bosses and leaders want their people to use their heads and do the right things. In other words, they want their people to use some initiative, be innovative, and be creative.

People get confused:

  • Should I follow the rules & procedures?
  • Should I use my imagination and not follow the rules & procedures?
  • Damned if I do; damned if I don’t! [and that’s not a good way to be thinking]

People get confused and communication gets bogged down and people get into performance ruts.

If you experience situations like this then it is in your best interest to make some changes for the better.

Here is a simple change you can make: Start telling people when you want them to be creative…I mean, start telling them before the action rather than after the fact.

First – before getting people to do the work, identify the parts of the work that are routine and systematize those parts…using step-by-step written procedures….using checklists.

Next – identify situations where creativity is or could be required. For example, you could use the 80-20 Rule: if creativity is required more than 20% of the time when this task/step is performed then flag that task/step as Creativity May Be Required Here. You could use a little orange flag to signal:

Creativity May Be Required Here

When you know a task requires creativity then you can use the words not-Routine Task to make that step stand out from routine tasks…you can use orange to signal creativity. [see orange arrow below]

Straightforward visual signals/cues will help your people know when they should side-step ‘normal’ procedures and check for opportunities to be creative & do the right thing. Use these visual signals/cues in your work-process checklists, flowcharts, role descriptions, etc.

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