In the current climate of economic uncertainty, many workers in tech are facing the fear of potential layoffs. In response, employers can take proactive steps to alleviate these anxieties and foster a culture of creativity that will help employees to tap into their emotions and feel more psychologically safe.
Those skills allow colleagues to build stronger connections and generate meaningful change in an organization. It also helps to foster an environment where thoughtful, sympathetic leadership can thrive. A recent report from Harvard Business Review suggests that emotional intelligence plays an important role in this process.
5 Ways to Foster Creativity on Your Team
- Create opportunities for employees to share their experiences.
- Promote an inclusive environment.
- Lead with trust and accountability.
- Create opportunities for cross-functional collaboration
- Encourage creative team bonding
By fostering a place of emotional intelligence, employees can build trust with their colleagues, improve their self-awareness and ultimately be more effective in their role at work. According to McKinsey, the demand for emotional intelligence skills is expected to grow by 26 percent by 2030.
While some teams may be stretched thin, making time for creative opportunities can aid in the development of emotional intelligence and yield more effective team collaboration. Here’s how.
How to Foster Creativity and Emotional Intelligence
In times of a looming recession, when organizations face shrinking budgets, employers can empower their workforce to tackle challenges and show increased resilience by honoring creativity. A Harvard Business Review report cites research that revealed the importance of “safe communication climates,” which is similar to psychological safety, as a key for creative workplaces to thrive.
Here are some steps you can take to foster creativity on your team.
Create Opportunities for Employees to Share Their Experiences
One way to foster creativity within your team is to organize informal learning sessions during lunch breaks in which employees can present their skills, hobbies or recent learnings on a subject relevant to the team. This is also a great way to help team members build rapport with each other, a necessity for a creative environment. You can also schedule regular creative feedback sessions, during which employees can openly share their perspectives and suggestions for change.
Another great way to engage employees across the scope of the business is to provide opportunities for employees to create their own content to use for blog or marketing purposes. The goal is to give team members a space to write about their work, their accomplishments and their passions. This helps build confidence and allows them to feel understood. When sharing this content, put their names on it and make sure to tag them on social media. By uplifting the voices and experience of your employees, you can empower them to share more of their ideas openly and foster trust in this creative space.
It’s also important to lead by example. Demonstrate your own commitment to creativity by actively participating in team brainstorms and sharing your own ideas. Prove you are open to new perspectives by asking your team questions. Embracing a growth mindset and showing you can be flexible when presented with new information or a different viewpoint will set the tone for your team and inspire them to follow your lead.
Promote an Inclusive Environment
To promote an inclusive environment and foster psychological safety, it’s essential to make it clear to your team that you value open and honest communication that goes both ways. As a team leader or manager, asking questions like, “What am I not doing, understanding, or seeing?” and “In what ways can I be helpful to you as your manager right now?,” are critical to creating the right communication channels that allow for psychological safety.
What Is Psychological Safety?
Psychological safety is a term coined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson that refers to a belief among team members that they can make mistakes, share ideas and take risks without fear of negative consequences.
Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson originally coined the term psychological safety, which refers to a shared belief among team members that they can take risks, express concerns or ideas, ask questions and admit mistakes without fear of negative consequences.
Consider implementing weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss tasks and workflow, as well as recurring monthly check-ins, during which, managers and team leaders can dive into how a team member is doing, what support they need and how you can improve processes. Having regular conversations will help you foster creativity and ensure that your team members feel heard and valued.
Encouraging open communication and providing the space for regular check-ins and opportunities for leadership to address team concerns without retribution fosters an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions.
Lead With Trust and Accountability
In today’s world of side hustles and polyworking, flexibility means empowering employees to work in ways that suit their needs and interests. This requires a foundation of trust and accountability. According to the National Institute of Health, micromanaging is one of the three top reasons that an employee will resign. It’s critical to give your employee the flexibility to balance their work and life. This means setting clear expectations while holding people accountable to make sure they get their work done. It requires not questioning if they are online exactly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or caring about whether they took a yoga class in the middle of the day.
Instead, the goal is to show that you are confident you hired the right person to do their job and trust they will complete their work. Holding regular check-ins with each employee allows you to be honest and upfront about performance, expectations and feedback. Providing resources like unlimited PTO so an employee doesn’t have to take a sick day when their child is ill is another example of great remote work leadership.
Remember that teams lead by example, so it’s important for leaders to do the things they hope to see in teams. Be upfront right away about a disappointment or confusion with their work so that they know what the expectations are and are not surprised later down the road. Ultimately, flexible work is about creating an environment that supports personal and professional growth, while also driving business success.
Create Opportunities for Cross-Functional Collaboration
Collaboration across departments exposes employees to different perspectives, ideas, and approaches to problem solving. It's essential to cultivate a work culture that values experimentation and encourages employees to be creative. This type of collaboration can foster creativity by breaking down silos and encourages new ways of thinking.
Employers should offer opportunities for collaboration across different departments and encourage employees to explore new assignments that align with their passion and skills. For example, start a mentorship program for junior employees to shadow other senior executives, or encourage walking meetings that allow employees to connect outside or around the office.
Consider implementing a hackathon, which are once quarterly, day-long events that allow teams to come together and develop unique solutions to problems.
Another example is giving employees a professional development stipend so that they can access courses they’re interested in, and then blocking off dedicated time each month to allow employees to work on these projects. Afterward, come together as a team to discuss what everyone learned and the new tools or skills they found valuable.
Encourage Creative Team Bonding
A recent Gallup report revealed that feelings of isolation reduce employee productivity up to 21 percent. Creating experiences to promote team bonding helps employees develop new skills and better understand their colleague’s perspectives while also creating a supportive work environment that values creativity and personal growth.
Organizing occasional off-site events, such as team-building activities or workshops, can be a great way to build relationships and explore new perspectives. Consider planning company-wide or smaller in-person team events that allow employees to attend creative workshops or training sessions focused on emotional intelligence. These events encourage personal and professional growth and create a supportive work environment where employees feel valued and connected.
Why Creativity Is Important for Employee Well-Being
In times of uncertainty employee well-being and productivity is at risk. A way to mitigate this risk is by highlighting the importance of psychological safety and emotional intelligence in the workplace. To achieve this, employers have an opportunity to promote creativity as a vehicle to foster a supportive and inclusive work environment.
By giving employees the opportunity to express themselves and take risks, and prioritizing their creative pursuits and personal growth, employers can facilitate stronger, more meaningful connections between employees and their work. It can also help a team to understand each other’s perspectives and feel more resilient to new challenges. Embracing this perspective can lead to breakthrough ideas, new opportunities and a more innovative and resilient organization