How to Make Your Team More Creative

Are you getting the most out of your team?

When I was working on my doctoral degree, several of my courses required us to complete group projects. I remember experiencing the highs and lows of group projects.

Photo by Jamie W. Cummings

In one course the professor assigned the team members. Since the course was on-line, our team was spread across the country, and one member was in Africa.

During our first planning meeting, we selected our topic and established an aggressive time line. I reminded the team of the importance of sticking to the time line. If one team member didn’t complete their task on time, it would adversely impact the team and our grade.

Well as you can imagine, one team member fell behind and didn’t complete their part. As a result, I had to rewrite the entire paper. While we passed the course, it was not our best work. I learned a very important lesson from the experience – to build in recovery time!

Do you want to get the very most out of your team? We all do. However, sometimes in our quest to “make it happen” we are tempted to put lots of pressure on them.

Perhaps that means giving them unreasonable deadlines. Maybe it means telling them that they need to complete a certain amount of work to get a reward. Whether you choose the carrot or stick, the assumption may be that they need an external motivator.

The only problem? This may not be right for your team… When you take this approach, you’ll be limiting what your team can accomplish, stifling their creativity and ultimately inhibiting achieving your goals.

Here’s why…

If your objective is sheer numbers and quantity, then this approach may work in the short-term. However, in the long run most of us would agree that what we value more is creativity and intuition. This is what makes the difference between a good organization that manages to survive and a great organization that changes the world.

The problem is that tight deadlines ruin creativity. One reason for this is that tight deadlines cause us to have a stress response. This response triggers the release of excitatory neurotransmitters and hormones that include adrenaline, norepinephrine and dopamine. While this gets us psyched up and helps us focus, that same focus makes it harder to be creative.

Creativity occurs when our mind is free to wander and wonder. That way, we can explore different ideas in our brains. This is the process that helps us find new connections and recombine them in unique ways. Many agree that a “good” idea is the recombination of two old ideas.

We are thought to be at our most creative when we’re engaging in mundane tasks like cleaning, showering or walking.

Taking our time also simply gives us enough time to think about alternative ways of doing things. This has led to many studies demonstrating a simple correlation between procrastination and creative problem solving. Believe it or not, people who procrastinate also tend to be more effective at coming up with unique ideas!

So, if you want to be more creative and have a more creative team, cut them some slack! You could even take a leaf out of Google’s book and provide your team with downtime to allow them to come up with their own projects and ideas.

Are you getting the most out of your team?

Your friend,
Kim

Dr. Kim Moore, guiding YOU to lead with confidence!

Dr. Kim Moore

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