Working in a company where imagination is an important aspect of the process can be a joy. As ideas fly across the office and the creative juices start to flow, it almost feels like you're witnessing magic. However, with all of the artistic attitudes in one space, it can be a tough beast to wrangle when aiming for productivity. Unfortunately, being a manager to a group of creative colleagues means that not all ideas, suggestions or concepts are realistic for the business, and saying "no" is a hard, albeit necessary, part of the job.
Here is a list of three ways to successfully manage a group of innovative individuals without extinguishing their creative sparks.
1. Don't say no right away
During a brainstorming session, people are likely to think of outlandish things that they know aren't feasible for the given project. Sometimes the biggest and most wild ideas lead to the one that works the best, even if it's an inadvertent segue. As a manager, it's important to recognize that each suggestion is a jumping off point and not necessarily the final concept. Saying no will discourage the group from thinking up the huge theories that could eventually lead someone to come up with the perfect idea.
As a manager, it's important to foster creativity and keep it in line while still giving the people the room to say whatever comes into their minds.
2. Build the team, but don't build walls
A project or everyday manager has the difficult task of creating an environment where employees feel free to be creative and open-minded. A good way to build this trust between people is to hold team-building exercises, as these are usually a good use of time. However, the Harvard Business Review warned that in some cases, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Some people may not respond well to group activities, as they may stunt their imagination and make them feel boxed-in creatively, which would be very unhelpful when these people are usually the ones who are asked to think outside of the box.
Instead, managers should see conflicts as a vehicle for growth and recognize that visionary partnerships don't need to be, and aren't always, ones that translate to outside friendships.
3. Trust that they will get the job done
Creative people often have a different way of doing things, but they tend to get the job done regardless of the road they take to get there. As a leader, it's imperative to have this trust in place. Micro-managing their every move will not only get on the group's nerves, but it could lead to an unfortunate situation, as a separate Harvard Business Review article noted. After all, if these people were hired to express themselves creatively in the workplace, getting in the way of that is only preventing them from doing their jobs.
Managers should foster creativity, not get in the way of it. Management training is a very helpful tool for people who interact with many different behavior types and who need to learn to get the best results from a team.