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Creativity is at the heart of any successful business. But it’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut and actually do things that not only discourage creativity but actually hinder it.
Here we take a look at where the pitfalls lie, and what your business can do to avoid them.
Putting someone in a job they don’t enjoy, or they’re not quite suited to, is not going to make them happy. It might be more convenient for you, but an unhappy employee is very unlikely to be a productive or creative one. Taking the time to make sure an employee has all the skills and attributes needed for a specific task or role - and that they’re content in doing it - will go a long way towards nurturing a creative working environment.
It’s always going to be risky being the first company to try something new. Research and development (R&D) can be expensive, and there’s no guarantee of success. But simply being a follower is actually just as bad. It can make your company slow and unresponsive, and it’s easy to miss out on the big opportunities - and big money - that being first past the post can bring. The marketplace moves quickly and being left behind can be costly. Real creativity is about taking risks and breaking new ground - and sometimes the craziest ideas end up being the best. Otherwise, you’ll simply stand still.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and expecting immediate results is unrealistic. Even if an idea is a good one, creativity takes time and putting pressure on staff to bring fast results is not helpful. It can make them uncomfortable about expressing their ideas and worry about results being too slow. Don’t forget that sometimes an idea can still be worthwhile, even if it doesn’t end up being a goldmine.
Let’s face it, nobody likes to feel as if someone’s constantly watching them. Although unfortunately some managers (and companies) still micromanage regularly, it’s likely to make the employee on the receiving end feel a range of negative emotions. They’ll perhaps wonder if their manager doesn’t think they’re good enough at their job, or that there’s an issue with mistrust. They might well also feel annoyed or frustrated - and not in the least bit creative. The whole point is that creativity pushes boundaries, and the only way to come up with solutions to problems is to give staff space and autonomy to get things done. Top tip: Resist the urge to tell staff directly what you want them to achieve but instead give them the chance to grow and explore new ideas themselves.
When you’re desperate to encourage creativity in a business, it’s tempting to go with any and all ideas that come along. But bear in mind it’s still necessary to be selective, and remember that just because a business decides not to run with an idea it doesn’t make it worthless.
Don’t be hard on people if an idea fails. After all, it’s going to happen sometimes and if you’re critical of the person who came up with it then word will get round. Employees will start to worry about coming up with suggestions in future, just in case it comes back to haunt them. Be more positive by rewarding them for owning any mistakes and support them in making sure problems don’t occur again in future.
People who have worked together for years and rub along pretty well aren’t always great for creativity. As a group, they’ll tend to have formed friendships that prevent them from speaking out against one another’s ideas, and are likely to think similarly to each other anyway.
The best teams are made up of a mixture of people of all ages, backgrounds and skillsets. Everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and attributes all of which bring about different approaches to problem solving. Although they may not always gel the same, it’s a great way to move things along.
Although the best ideas can come out of nowhere and oodles of cash isn’t always necessary, usually time and money are key factors. Expecting employees to work with hardly any time and/or a shoestring budget isn’t exactly fair, and won’t particularly get the creative juices flowing. Obviously in modern times sticking to financial restrains is essential, and cash isn’t always free-flowing, but it’s essential to strike a balance. If you don’t you may well end up with stressed out staff that lack enthusiasm to carry out their jobs effectively.
Although it’s not always easy to give credit where it’s due, when a member of staff sees through a particularly creative project, or addresses an especially difficult task, let them know you’re impressed. It’ll make them feel good, and that positively will foster a more creative mindset amongst the team. Likewise, if something’s amiss, tactfully ask them what they think went wrong and why, before supporting them in trying again. It’s about motivation and enthusiasm, as well as rewards and incentives.
Creativity leads to innovation - and innovation is what makes a business survive and grow. Without it, a company will stagnate, leading to an erosion of its competitive edge and a high risk of failure.
Luckily, there are a couple of key government tax incentives on offer to help companies innovate and expand, including R&D Tax Credits and R&D Grants. Open to all UK companies of all sizes in all sectors, they can offer a large cash injection that can make all the difference.
To find out more and how to apply, have a look at our comprehensive webpages, R&D Tax Credits and R&D Grants or call our friendly expert team on 0207 118 6045. Alternatively, feel free to use our contact page and we’ll be pleased to get back to you.