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Coach Employees to Be More Creative

The Xenonex team often talk about the benefits of individual coaching and of adopting a coaching culture within an organisation.

I like how this article, edited from an original piece published by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic (an expert on personality profiling, talent management, and people analytics) looks at the way coaching can improve creativity and why it is such an important part of great leadership.

While creativity is not 100% malleable – personality does set limits – it can still be nurtured through deliberate interventions, especially over a long period of time.

Though our inspiration levels fluctuate from time to time, we all differ in our baseline levels of creativity. In the world of business, few entrepreneurs can realistically expect to emulate the colossi of innovation, such as Steve Jobs or Richard Branson, or the companies they created.

Here are the main factors to consider when attempting to coach creativity:

Give lots of feedback. This is essential in helping people close the gap between their confidence and their competence. Those who don’t get enough feedback – or ignore it – only end up being creative in their own minds.

Provide training in creative thinking. For example, teaching people to detect novel ideas, take on challenging tasks, retrieve knowledge outside their expertise, or combine unrelated ideas can all boost creativity.

Assign people to tasks they love. If you can increase someone’s motivation, particularly intrinsic motivation (his task-related enjoyment, interest, and involvement), his creative performance will also likely increase.

Help employees develop expertise.  Most people are inclined to believe that knowledge interferes with creativity — that the more you read and find out, the harder it is to be creative. However, a higher level of expertise, particularly in an area your employee is passionate about, will increase their chances of being creative in that domain.

Though individual creativity matters, team creativity is far more important. Creativity is mostly a team effort that can only result from coordinated group activities, because it requires individuals to leave aside their own agendas to work as a team — and that is why leadership is a key driver of creativity.

Here are three basic suggestions managers can follow in order to boost the creative output of their teams:

Balance differences and similarities: high-performing teams tend to be similar in their values (they are all motivated and driven by the same things) but different in their styles (they have different personalities, skills, and backgrounds).

Avoid having too many “creatives”: although idea generators are critical to any creative team, their ideas will only be implemented if the team also comprises people who love execution, think pragmatically, pay attention to details, and help to transform their creative ideas into actual innovations. Don’t assume that your less creative employees cannot make a key contribution to the group’s overall creative output.

Embrace failure:  Too many managers and companies pretend to embrace creativity but they don’t care enough to do what it takes to promote it. They want employees to achieve “less with more” and are happy to support their creative ideas so long as they will “work for sure.” If you are not prepared to embrace failure, you will never encourage your employees to do anything creative.

We deliver innovative and bespoke client-centred solutions in Executive CoachingLeadership Development and training across the UK. We work at Executive, Senior and Middle Management levels to maximise and transform the way people work.

If you are a senior manager, HR professional or professional coach looking to develop your expertise and credibility in the fields of coaching and mentoring then contact Xenonex for details of our ILM programmes. Xenonex also has extensive experience in developing and embedding coaching within organisations. 

To find out more contact Jo Watson, Business Development Manager on 01423 876371 or email jo.watson@xenonex.co.uk

Suzanna Prout