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Creating a company culture that encourages creative thinking

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Creating a company culture that encourages creative thinking

Creating a company culture that encourages creative thinking is the dream of every HR manager and CEO. Multiple deadlines, switching between meetings and phone calls throughout the day. Endless email reading. Sound familiar?

The scenario is standard in most workplaces and is causing more and more employees to suffer from burnout. From all this, it is clear that the priorities of companies must change. American company Exos says change must start at the top.

Creating a company culture that encourages creative thinking and curiosity can provide employees with the boost of inspiration they need—not only to stay on the job but to feel re-motivated and inspired. According to Exos, there are three ways managers can help make the change to a better company culture happen:

Minimize switching between tasks

Changing projects and priorities throughout the workday is a recipe for an exhausted mind. This prevents people from feeling engaged, motivated and satisfied – all things that are key to finding meaning in work. "Frequent switching between tasks is a form of hyper-distraction," says Chris Bertram, Senior Director of Applied Neuroscience at Exos. "That leaves no time for deeper focus," he adds.

While multitasking may seem like a good way to optimize your workflow, doing several things at once and having breaks in concentration when switching from one task to another, increases the likelihood of making mistakes. Research shows that switching from one task to another can result in a 40% loss in productivity.

That's why it's a good idea to introduce new policies about work schedules and deadlines that allow employees to focus on one task at a time. This leads to more thoughtful and creative ideas and solutions that ultimately improve long-term worker performance.

Prioritize purposeful breaks

The best way to counteract the exhaustion of burnout is through purposeful rest. What does that mean? First of all, checking emails and reading social media posts do not fall into this category. These actions only increase the tendency to switch from one task to another and prevent the mind from resting and recharging.

Research shows that more frequent breaks of any kind lead to less stress, but encouraging activities like walking or meditating helps increase employee productivity.

"These things build up over time," says Bertram. "The result is that employees won't feel as exhausted or overwhelmed at the end of the day," he adds.

Purposeful breaks are of great importance. Stretching, walking outside with a colleague, drinking water, or practicing meditation, for example, already qualify as forms of active recovery.

"Give your employees tools they can use themselves, anytime, for free," says Bertram. These tools are ideally part of your corporate wellness program and are readily available to both on-site and remote employees.

Give your employees the freedom to try new things

Allowing employees to feel as if they are in control of their performance at work will increase their motivation. Take, for example, Google's 20 percent rule, a concept that became popular when the company went public in 2004.

Google managers encourage employees to devote 20 percent of their time to projects they believe will benefit the company. This feature allows employees to explore their interests without being pressured to succeed.

As a result, employees begin to prioritize internal factors such as gaining knowledge and independence over external motivators such as bonuses and promotions. Next, look for the leaders (and future leaders) in your organization who have the ambition and desire to grow.

This will plant the seeds for change throughout the company and motivate employees to take action.

The different types of employees

The idea that opposites attract can make sense when talking about relationships in our personal lives. However, spending more time with someone who is your complete opposite can give you a sense of balance and open up new horizons for you.

However, when it comes to the people you work with, things are different. Unlike the people you choose to surround yourself with in your free time, you have no role in selecting your colleagues. However, you have to find a way to work with them effectively.

"You may not understand exactly what your colleague means because your ways of thinking are opposite, or at least significantly different," says Kelly Macdonald.

Some of the common personality types that perfectly embody the complete opposites found in the workplace include risk-takers and those who refuse to step out of their comfort zone; introverts and extroverts, analytical and creative thinkers; confrontational and non-confrontational people.

In all of these cases, I think the challenge in the workplace is to ensure that the business continues to move forward. Every time dialogue stops, business is lost. We should be able to talk about anything - even things we don't know how to talk about.

Find common ground

The first step to working with a person who is significantly different from you is to find common ground. "You may have to take some time to get to the heart of the other person, but the connection is always there," says Macdonald, adding that good themes for finding common ground are those related to the family. , hobbies, movies, pets, and sports.

She tells of a former employer of hers who once called his team into a conference room for a quick meeting. "He told the group, 'We've all worked together, but some of us don't know each other very well. "I want everyone in the room to share something that others probably don't know about them," McDonald says.

It was really fun because people listed random things. One man said he grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, and another said he didn't know how to tie a tie. Finding common ground or a topic of conversation creates a bridge between you and others, she adds.

Stop Saying "Let's Agree We Can't Agree"

Different perspectives, approaches, and understandings can often lead to friction in the workplace. Not everyone will see things the same way you do. If someone is trying to win an argument or convince others of their view of things, this can create tension. It is accepted that in such situations it is often good to seek a compromise and say something like agree that we cannot agree. However, according to McDonald, this is a mistake.

These words are polite and should work, but the truth is they don't have much effect. They sound dismissive, as the other party hears: You obviously can't accept that I'm right. And so the conversation ends, Macdonald explains.

Instead, she recommends saying something like, "I see things differently." These few words can turn a debate into a discussion. I'm willing to bet you'll get a response like: Tell me exactly how you see things and you'll have a full conversation. It may not all go smoothly, but it will allow you to understand the other person's perspective, even if it's very different from your own, Macdonald adds.

Don't treat your coworkers like family

Some companies strive to build a company culture where the team is a kind of family. This is the wrong approach because it makes employees feel bad when they don't like a colleague. Likes and dislikes are emotions, and emotions are something that in many cases have no place in work.

Company culture is more about the shared mission, shared goals, shared vision, and values, she says. You don't have to like someone to be able to work effectively with them. It's possible to be part of a high-performing team and not like each other. Sports teams and the military often see similar dynamics. 

When you realize that you don't have to like someone to work together, you free yourself from unnecessary worries and get the chance to focus on the work. Of course, you have to be respectful and professional. Put the emotion aside and say: What are we doing? We have work to do, let's focus on it.

About the author

Charlotte Bennet, Writer at Business Value-Oriented Principles

Charlotte Bennet graduated in Business Administration from The University of Sydney. Today, she manages the Human Resources department with the position of HR Director.

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