Creativity essential for working through crisis and employee engagement

There’s proof (aka research) that supports creativity as a positive influencer on employee engagement. Researcher Dr. Mark Batey of the Manchester Business School says creativity is definitely needed in working through crises (from People Management Blog, April 8, 2011 by Jill Evans)
Empoyee-Engagement-Defined

HRD 2011: Creativity essential for working through crisis

Pairing staff with differing attributes can boost creative thinking, says psychologist

Creativity is “essential for performing out of the downturn,” psychologist Mark Batey, joint chair of the Psychometrics at Work Research Group at Manchester Business School, told the CIPD’s HRD conference.Research showed that creativity was the number one strategic priority for entrepreneurial and high performing companies, Batey told delegates. Creative teams were, he said, “more efficient, better at problem solving, don’t waste time, and often give better service. Individual levels of creativity can feed directly into the profit level of an organisation. And it is crucial in the invention of new products and processes.”

However, he highlighted research from the US on 300,000 school children by academic Kyung Hee Kim, which showed a steady decline in creative thinking skills since 1990 – and this trend was getting worse. For employers, this could mean the supply of creative people did not equal demand, so organisations needed to think how to deal with this.

Batey said it was possible to train people to think creatively, but it was essential to start with a diagnosis of their individual creative capacity. He used the analogy of a tennis coach assessing a player’s skills and weakness before putting together a programme that would “leverage their strengths”.

It was also helpful to pair up those individuals whose creative capacity worked in opposite ways. He referred to Hewlett Packard’s practice of deliberately recruiting candidates in pairs – for example, matching a 60-year old systems engineer with a 20-year old art and design student. The information technology company called this technique their “odd couples”. “Not everybody can be an Einstein or a Picasso,” said Batey. “But we can see what their natural strengths and weaknesses are and how they can work with others to achieve outcomes.”

Organisations needed to develop a creative culture in which there was a willingness to share ideas. “There’s no such thing as a bad idea,” he said. “The bad thing is enacting them. That’s a big difference. Sometimes organisations think it’s bad for individuals to have ideas in the first place.”

In fact, creativity programmes improved employee engagement, he said.

“You’re asking people to solve problems and exploit opportunities instead of putting the pressure on them to be silent and just do one thing. If people start thinking, they start to become more involved.”

 

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