The Killers of Creativity

The Killers of Creativity

Have you ever worked in an environment where you felt like your creativity was shut down? How motivated did you feel to do an awesome job? Probably not too motivated, right?

Productivity and creativity often go hand-in-hand. It’s called intrinsic motivation, the idea that most employees will be more creative when they are motivated by their interests, enjoyment, satisfaction, and being challenged with their work, instead of motivating with outside pressures that cause a person to be systematic, direct, pushy or aggressive. The more personal motivation that an employee feels towards their position and responsibilities, the more creative they’ll be. Every great product, service, and idea starts with creative thinking by someone who felt personally motivated to work. The more creative your employees are, the more your organization benefits in the long-term.

Managers need to be mindful of what shuts down that intrinsic motivation:

Too much or too direct observation: employees are less creative and more anxious when they feel like they’re being watched. Don’t be that manager who watches over an employee like a hawk.

Restricted choices: many employees want to feel independent, free to do their job in a way that works for them. Organizations are seeing the value of unrestricted choice by offering options such as job sharing, working from home a few days a week, and other options that allow for flexibility.

Intense competition: if an employee feels intimidated or threatened by their immediate, internal competition, you might see an initial boost in productivity. However, the stress can kill their creativity, which will eventually impacts productivity in a negative way. Employees can become despondent, demotivated, or even resentful when they feel as though they’ve been pitted against another employee.

But when your employees are intrinsically motivated, they’re likely to come up with new ideas or valuable contributions that can really push your organization forward. They’ll be more willing to take risks, think outside the box, and work through challenges to achieve their goals. And when they achieve their goals, you achieve yours.

If you want to prevent creativity killers, it’s important to understand the following characteristics of your employees:

  • What are the employee’s skills? Are they natural skills or learned skills?
  • What are their personality traits? Are they dominant or accepting? Social or analytical? Relaxed or driving? Compliant or independent? This will tell you a lot about their creativity skills and abilities.
  • What motivates them? What might they be passionate about that could motivate them to do the tasks required? A creative person requires both personal motivation and a workplace that encourages and acknowledges intrinsic rewards.

As a manager, it’s important to focus on the intrinsic motivation of an employee. If you allow your employees to tune into their sense of wonder, interest, challenges, curiosity and love for their job, they’ll be more productive and creative, which benefits both the employee and the organization in the long run. Don’t be the killer of creativity – empower your employees and see what unfolds!


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