As with most important elements that make a company thrive, the people in management are key. The management style, as well as the structure of the organization, have an impact on nurturing a creative atmosphere.
Managing creative people takes a different skillset than managing other types of workers because creative people are different. What makes them unique also makes them less likely to thrive under strict rules and regulations.
The key to leading creative team members is flexibility. Creativity doesn’t always happen during work hours, and it doesn’t necessarily happen when it’s convenient for the organization. Simply put, creativity happens when it happens.
Flexibility on the part of leadership is essential to the creative process. Consider allowing an associate to work during their peak creative times, which may include evenings and weekends instead of weekdays from eight to five. It may include working early in the morning before management arrives on the scene to witness the actual work.
Creative types often produce their best ideas outside the office. While this may not sit well with a manager who’s tasked with overseeing productivity, it might be essential to a team member being able to produce the kind of results that the company is ultimately seeking. Allowing a person to generate ideas at the park or in a coffee shop, or even at home, could be the key to the next big breakthrough.
The best and most creative ideas are often produced in a group setting during times of intentional collaboration. But also consider the fact that innovative thinking may happen when people are having discussions that have nothing to do with the task at hand. What looks like idle chitchat may actually be a conversation that sparks thoughts and ideas that generate new solutions.
The thought of allowing employees to work when and where they want to and taking time to socialize on the job may make some managers squeamish. It might be difficult at first, but resist the urge to micromanage. Remember that flexibility and accountability are two different things. Deadlines and outcomes still matter.
Rather than measuring job performance by hours logged on the timeclock or seeing the team member hunched over their computer, measure by results. Did the associate deliver on the task you assigned to them? Then it’s a job well-done.
The bottom line is, flexibility allows creativity to thrive, and accountability produces results.