By: Jeffrey Fermin
As a company grows, its creativity typically tends to decrease. What can be done to prevent a decrease in creativity within an organization?
One of the best parts of working at a startup is that creativity is a requirement for all our employees. We have such a small team, that we rely on each other to continually push each other’s creative limit.
We constantly need to come up with new concepts and ideas that will help our company grow; in our case to drive more people to our site, and when they get there … What can we do to make the experience beneficial to them?
From what I’ve seen, startup veterans generally do well when they land in a major company, because they can easily evaluate everything that’s going on and suggest relatively new (or unconventional ways) to have offices operate leaner, faster, and more efficiently.
Now, what can be done for medium and large-sized companies to keep a creative, startup atmosphere? First let’s look at what kind of things destroy creativity.
What kills creativity?
That’s right, big egos destroy creativity. When people think that they’re bigger than what they are, it tends to rub the people the wrong way and they’ll continue to think they’re a better employee, leader, and person than their colleagues.
Cocky people will destroy growth! If you’ve worked in an environment where there’s an “office jerk” or disengaged employee you’ve probably seen it happen. The person will do their best to make all their ideas happen and prioritize their stuff before their colleagues.
Fortunately, society and workplaces across the globe are moving towards more selfless workplaces that have less of a negative vibe. They want to create a good team atmosphere that will allow people to get their creativity out and not reject good potential projects or ideas.
Your ego can become an obstacle to your work. If you start believing in your greatness, it is the death of your creativity.
Forward-thinking companies want to create a fun, result-oriented workplace. They know that there is a high return on investment for having happy, healthy, and motivated employees.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the office is selfless and it’s hard to create this kind of atmosphere as those egotistical employees slowly bring down the morale of people around them.
This might seem like a power move, but the best way to get “cocky” individuals to become a bit more level-headed is to let them know that they are killing the office atmosphere. Let them know that they have to consider other people’s work and ideas. Let them know that you want them to do great things together.
When you get a group of individuals to ditch their ego and come together, you’ll see that things get done a lot better, a lot easier, and people have more fun.
The whole “strength in numbers” is true, but when everyone is in sync and there are no egos involved. When egos and hard-headed individuals put a stop to creativity and innovation, it tends to decrease the aforementioned “strength.”
Choose creative, innovative leaders
Great leaders are considered great because they are able to knowingly push people to limits they might have thought were unreachable.
So when your company gives people power, they have to make sure that they’re giving it to people that are going to push the envelope occasionally and try a couple of new things.
Creative leaders will strive to find new ways to motivate people and continually search for ways to make a group better as a whole. No one will reinvent your company’s wheel, but they can make it look a lot shinier.
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
The problem you’ll face in having leaders that aren’t creative is that they’ll find a good comfort zone and you’ll have a stagnant, redundant culture in your office. This is why I personally hate the old style of leadership, where managers only come out to complain, have something done, and they will barely know the employee.
They will find a way that works okay and they’ll want it to run like that forever. The second that someone deviates from the plan or does something new they will be angered by it, on the other end of the spectrum, a creative leader will embrace someone trying something new and will test it out and see if it works.
So to create a innovative and creative culture, try looking at the leadership!
Have leaders and colleagues think like a sports team
A sports team is like an office. You’re going to have your leaders, competitive teammates, but most importantly, you’re going to have different personalities from diverse backgrounds coming together for a common goal.
Going to what I alluded to earlier, it’s important to have a leader that is open-minded enough to try new things to succeed. Leaders that let people be themselves and feel comfortable within their environment.
The best personal example I can think of a leader giving me autonomy and freedom at its purest form was when I played football (American) as a teenager.
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.
Let me preface it by saying that there was one year where coaches treated us like meat, kept us on a tight leash and barely let us have any fun. The football team went 1-9 that year and lost a lot of players.
The very next year, the coaches instilled a new mindset and culture around the team.
It was competitive, yet fun. High octane, yet relaxing in the off time. We all became a family that year. I had fun, the team had fun, the coaches had fun, and the school had fun with us.
We fell one game short of a championship two consecutive years. But we knew that we were champions inside and we carried that swagger for the rest of our lives.
When the coaches gave us a lot of freedom and let us have fun and it led to success. It’s somewhat of an attitude that I bring into any workplace I go into.
It’s good to have freedom to work as hard as you want to. Just make sure that you’re keeping the team, or in my current situation my company’s core values, in mind.
When you have an environment that’s loose and productive, the results will come. The people will bond together, and you’ll achieve more creative feats than ever before, in doing so your company will create a fun company culture around its values.
About the author
Jeffrey Fermin is cofounder of Officevibe, an employee engagement platform that encourages collaboration through team building activities. When he’s not working on his product, he spends the majority of his time reading, writing and meeting new people.