Looking to engage your employees with the latest tricks so they are more creative? Sure, we all are. But this whole notion of "employee engagement" isn't something we implement as a program or enforce as some sort of top-down policy. That actually disengages employees. Talk about a creativity killer.
And we can't try to force happiness down our employees' throats so they are more creative. Listen, letting them bring their dog to work on Friday is pretty nifty, and may make someone happy (the dog may actually dread it).
But the following Monday, if employees are going through the motions just doing the necessary work to collect a paycheck, guess what? They are not engaged.
So how do you really engage your employees to be more creative? Here's a little secret: Employee engagement, in its clearest and simplest form, is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.
That's it. And the reason this is so important is because when they are emotionally committed as employees, they give discretionary effort. There's the solution to your creativity problem.
The best way to tap into their creativity is to engage your employees from the neck up. But to do that, everybody -- managers, executives, HR bosses, founders and team leader -- have to pitch in to foster the environment for the creative brains in the room to be activated to their fullest potential.
Here are 8 practical ways you can do that.
Creative strategy No. 1: Give them tools they want to work with.
Have you asked what resources and tools employees may need to collaborate quickly and efficiently? Tap into their resources, technological savviness, and creative expertise. Inviting their best ideas is actually already promoting a collaborative culture of creativity that spits in the face of organizational silos.
Creative strategy No. 2: Let people make their own decisions.
Creativity is not driven by closed-door meetings in the C-suite where thinking and decisions filter down to the worker bees. Engagement that drives creativity means empowering your tribe to use their brains to make decisions on things that will affect them in the frontlines -- where decisions are made every day. If your employees feel like their best ideas are going to be implemented by themselves, you will have released discretionary effort across the organization. My consulting advice to leaders: Push your authority down, let them make their own decisions, and watch a culture of leadership develop before your eyes.
Creative strategy No. 3: Let problem solving happen across functions and teams.
Allow for collaboration to happen between functions and departments that may have some synergy between them to get a project done. Make sure information is available and flowing about what the other is doing so that there's more transparency. Network and involve other people that can help your team. Get buy-in and sell an idea to other audiences to test it out.
Creative strategy No. 4: Switch job roles.
Plan a day where employees get a chance to step into the roles of other colleagues in different functions. Give them an opportunity to see workplace challenges from an unfamiliar place. This helps to expose them to new ideas and thinking.
Creative strategy No. 5: The physical workspace.
For teams to get creative, they need a variety of meeting places. Having both open and closed workspaces appeals to different personality types and helps to break down silos. Think informal hangout lounges, long table workstations, and quiet rooms for small groups to huddle or individuals to have focused solitude. To stay productive, designate "play areas" and game rooms for frequent breaks to re-energize people after intense work sessions.
Creative strategy No. 6: Remote collaboration.
It goes without saying, so I'll keep this one short. Technology must be in place for remote collaboration (video conferencing, communication apps, etc.) to happen from anywhere, at any time, through both desktop and mobile devices.
Creative strategy No. 7: Allow for social networking to happen.
Some companies fear that the use of social media will take away from productivity. But think about this: What if you creatively welcomed branding and customer engagement through your people's own social networking? PC giant Dell lets employees "speak for Dell" on their social networks, using their own free thinking instead of being handed-down generic corporate script.
Creative strategy No. 8: Make sure your people are bonding.
Some employees may not even know about each other's personal lives for weeks or months, and they're sitting ten feet across from each other! It is just as much the manager's responsibility to make sure that their people are getting to know each other, so they can work closer and more creatively together. Take a Friday every quarter to do something fun together, like paintballing, bowling or an outing at the park. The point is you want to build a sense of community within your organization.
I'll leave you with this simple formula: Fostering employee engagement = high creativity. Encouraging creativity = high employee engagement. They are intertwined.
Before you get to that place where people are walking by each other without making eye-contact, and fear is palpable, figure out your engagement situation. Then start asking your own employees what they need to be more creative.