by Lorenzo del Marmol – Co-Founder & Manager @ World of Digits
To our Dearest followers, this past post about Creative Empowerment (May 2014) has been enhanced with new ideas and updates. We hope you enjoy it and find it useful.
As I was having a consultation with a client, the manager asked me: “How can we empower our employees to be more creative?”
It was a fast-growing SME company and was in the process of getting more employees on board to fill in the gaps in every department.
I was happy he asked me this question: it meant the company cared about their employees. It was a timely question that I hope every manager would give time to ponder on… So what did I told him? Use empowerment to boost creativity and happiness at work.
I told him that empowerment is a feeling that employees get from being satisfied. This satisfaction is generated in numerous ways: creating autonomy, responsibility, self-awareness, replacing the old hierarchy with self-managed teams, getting the right reward, giving the chance to be heard or more, company transparency and employee involvement in the decision-making process.
However, many companies overlook the fact that creativity can also be a source of empowering the workforce. I call this creative empowerment.
Then I explained to him how to allow the development of this creativity in 7 points. Please allow me to point them out for you. I hope these are applicable to your company or organization.
1 – Power Out Creativity
First, empowerment is not giving people power, because generally people already have knowledge and motivation to do their jobs. Rather, you should release people’s empowerment by giving them a sense of ownership. That has to start with a management style that encourages creativity. Many people in organisations are afraid to be creative. This is because most organisations are afraid of change and new ideas.
As a creative manager, you won’t direct, control, or manage people. Instead, you will be more like a facilitator, connecting employees and their ideas to the rest of your company. As such, your task is to listen to new ideas, to challenge the existing, foster intrapreneurship, autonomy, engage in strategic thinking and understand your people. In a sense, you should work for them, rather than having them work for you.
Creative empowerment is a top-down, values-driven process. As part of this approach, you need to manage people, like you manage a creative process. You should understand them, power their creativity out, select the best ideas, give ownership, test the ideas and implement them with your team.
2 – Reward creativity
Some companies have adopted reward systems for their employees. A fast-food chain may give out an “employee of the month” award, recognizing employees who have perfect attendance and good customer feedback.
From a creative perspective, managers or supervisors can also reward employees for their creativity too. You may reward someone who makes a huge breakthrough, submitted a compelling design or someone who provide an excellent solution to a problem.
Rewards don’t have to be costly: recognition on the bulletin board or a half-day off would often do. I try to invite my team for a lunch, I bring them food they love or just a big THANK YOU while looking in their eyes. You can also be a little extravagant if you have the resources.
The bottom line is, never fail to recognize your employees’ talents, one way or the other. Personal message to my team “Hey girls & guys, I love you! Thanks for every wonderful day we work and create together.”
3 – Give room for creativity
Whether you impose a no-disturb policy when your creative team is at work or hearing out their ideas before you make a decision, your employees need to have room for creativity. Even better, you initiate giving them without them asking because you respect that their talents are significant to the success of the company. In the same way, you are acknowledging their unique creative thoughts, and that creativity is best squeezed just the way they like it.
4 – Celebrate mistakes and failures
Probably one of my favorite. Keep in mind that creative endeavours are often subjective. One creative effort may not pass as creative to another. But with the standards set by your company, it is also important that you make enough room for employees’ shortcomings. Allow them to fail and try again without passing judgment. Guide them on how they can do better next time, give them concrete examples and encourage them to learn from their failures.
An idea for you… Organise the “Yes we failed” day!
5 – Share Information and ask for feedback
You should openly share and ask for all sorts of information with your collaborators, about issues, budgets profits, productivity, and so on. If you are unwilling to share information, your people won’t feel like empowered partners and they won’t propose any ideas to help you.
6 – Set realistic expectations
Expectation is a hard thing to beat, especially if you don’t know where to stand. But if you’ve set clear and realistic expectations, it is easy to manage failures and achievements without overwhelming or underwhelming your employees. Define with your employees what the company standards are and allow them to voice their feedback. Be transparent and give them venues where their ideas can be heard.
7 – Engage employees in both creative and non-creative endeavours
I have heard of companies that encourage their employees to engage in non-creative endeavours such as personal projects, sports and charities which helped in employee engagement and satisfaction a lot. Engaging them in non-work related activities breed camaraderie and bonding, two important things when you are aiming for creative collaboration in the workforce.
Establishing creative empowerment in the workforce is highly possible and beneficial for an organisation. If you lead an empowered group of employees, you are also assured that they will be happy and satisfied with their working environment and culture. This breeds better company performance and increases company retention… To empower your employees through creativity, remember:
- Empowerment comes from a sense of ownership.
- Reward excellent creative endeavors.
- A creative manager is a coach and a facilitator who provides support and guidance.
- True empowerment comes from releasing the creative power of knowledge and motivation.
- Think of your employees as associates and imagine yourself as a person who helps link ideas and people to each other and the organization.
- Make room for creativity – respect how your creative employees would want to work on their projects.
- Celebrate mistakes and failures – do not pass judgment right away and encourage employees to do better next time.
- Set realistic expectations – explain clearly the company standards so employees will have a concrete guide as they work.
- Engage employees in both creative and non-creative endeavors. Allow employees to have fun outside their job description.
As a conclusion, I believe creative empowerment is a very important concept companies must first understand before they implement. We need to understand that it is human nature to seek satisfaction and fulfillment from their hard work. We also need to feel recognized and given credits for excellent work. Do not dismiss their work as “just” something needed by the company, going the extra mile in recognizing these talents will positively impact your company’s creative performance.
One last word…
At World of Digits, we like to see our team as a tribe where we give everyone an opportunity to fulfill their goals in life and become its own leader.
If you want to hop on the boat and join us here, check out our jobs vacancy right here…
We are waiting for YOU!