Six Rules to Foster Creativity While Maintaining Efficiency Within Your Business

April 29, 2013 by  

This guest post was submitted to The Anywhere Office by Erin Schwartz, a Specialist in Social Media and Affiliate Marketing.

Creativity and Efficiency

Take a good look at any company or corporation that has been successful at doing business for any length of time and you will undoubtedly discover that they all had their own particular set of systems and processes for managing the daily functions of business: payroll, inventory, invoicing, general bookkeeping, HR and so on. Look a little further and you might even find step-by-step processes and rules in place that govern how they develop and launch new products or services or market themselves to the world.

Systems are a necessary part of keeping control and assuring quality within a business that has more than just a few employees. But when systems are allowed to become etched in stone, forever unchanging, a company is in danger of missing out on emerging technologies that could quite likely improve their bottom line and make them more competitive.

Here are six basic rules that every company, no matter what size, should follow to foster and promote an atmosphere of creativity without sacrificing consistency and quality.

It starts at the top – A company’s culture reflects the ideals and beliefs of the owner(s). Those at the top must continually give the message that change is good and that ideas for improvement are welcome. When top management embraces such a philosophy, it’s a sure bet that those underneath will also espouse similar beliefs.

Banish forever “That’s the Way We’ve Always Done It” – Having teams of people responsible for developing dynamic new products and services is only one way a company shows its creative side. Companies must also recognize that the old, tried and true way of doing something is often made obsolete by a new machine, program or process. Stubbornly refusing to even consider any changes to a ten-year old ordering or inventory system is just ridiculous. As new people join a company, they often bring with them ideas and experience gained from former places of employment. Managers need to welcome new ideas for streamlining basic systems, and not view them as a threat to the status quo.

Encourage and promote brainstorming and problem-solving round-table discussions – The power of the group mind is incredible; by sharing frustrations and successes, employees often discover new and even better ways of doing things just by tossing ideas back and forth in a casual meeting. Energize the boring staff meeting by setting aside 15-20 minutes for a no-holds-barred discussion of what’s working and what’s not, and possible ways to improve.

Have a system in place for submitting and reviewing suggestions and ideas – When a clerk has an idea for improving the payroll system that will save the company both time and money, he or she shouldn’t have to move a mountain to get that idea in front of the appropriate decision-maker. Have a well-documented system that is easy to use and make sure everyone knows how to use it. It could be as simple as the time-honored suggestion box on a wall or as elaborate as a series of forms on the company website. Assign a person or a team to be responsible for reviewing suggestions on a regular basis. If there’s a genuine fear that there will be too many off-beat and impractical ideas, make it a requirement for those making suggestions to also provide some facts and/or figures as to the costs and benefits.

Provide feedback – If someone has gone to the trouble to present their ideas logically on the appropriate forms with backing data, then they deserve a response, even if it’s brief. Perhaps they weren’t aware of some key facts that prevent their idea from being implemented, or the cost would be far greater than they calculated. Most people are understanding, and will accept an answer even if it’s not the one they wanted. To just say “no” without comment, or worse – no answer at all – then word gets round quickly that top management isn’t interested in what the rank and file have to say, and morale plummets as a result.

Reward outstanding ideas – Apart from having their suggestions totally ignored, no one likes to see someone else take credit for their idea. If your shipping and receiving team came up with an idea that will literally save tens of thousands of dollars or triples the speed in which your clients get their products, then these people deserve recognition for their cleverness. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a monetary or other tangible reward; sometimes, just a positive mention in the company newsletter, on the website, or in a large meeting can be enough. There is tremendous power in those two words: “Thank You.”

By following these basic guidelines, companies will create an atmosphere where employees feel empowered to make suggestions that they know will be given an honest evaluation, and where proper recognition is given when earned. Such companies are the ones to watch – they have taken extra steps to make their employees feel valued.

Author Biography: Erin Schwartz is a regular contributor to the blog The website offers customizable print products for business and individuals. You can get everything required to market a business, including the ability to make your own business cards and design other promotional items.

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