3 Powerful Ways Supervisors Nurture Big Creativity at Work

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The activities that have made your organization successful in the past are likely not the same activities that will ensure it thrives in the future.

As people responsible for the productivity of others, supervisors can, at times, see how their teams are limited by what is in place today.

Thinking beyond what is in place now requires stretching our thinking and experimenting. But even if we know that is needed, we often don’t know how to do it.

The following are three things that supervisors can do to promote thinking creatively in just a few days: slay, play, and escape.

1. Slay the fear dragon

Fear is the biggest enemy of creativity.  It stops us from striving to be different and encourages us to be the same because our minds perceive that as safe.

When you do something creative, it’s different than the norm.  When you express your different thoughts, you’re opening yourself to criticism.  That can be scary.

As a supervisor, by not only allowing and encouraging risk-taking but also helping people train for it, you help them build a tolerance to fear.  If people can feel their fear, and still move forward with trying new things, your team will move forward.

Try this exercise that gently exposes people to potential criticism.

During a team meeting, invite people to draw a picture, write a poem, or build with Legos to demonstrate what the company or department mission means to them.  These activities engage the more creative right side of the brain.  When the activity is something that your team isn’t expected to do well on their job every day, it makes looking silly a little safer.

2. Play a bit

A playful mind is an open mind.  It’s unguarded and ready to learn new concepts and make new connections.

Integrating play into work is more natural for some companies than it is for others.  If this is not part of your current culture, you’ll have to plan out the activities for a while until others get the hang of it.

Give this a try to interject more play into the workday.

Bring in board games and ask others to play with you on lunch or breaks.  If there’s room to turn a conference table into a ping pong table, getting the whole body engaged in the play is even more effective! 

3. Escape the norm

Minds are more easily unlocked to explore innovative ideas when exposed to variety.  Even jobs with an assortment of tasks can be mixed up by changing the setting or the typical method used.

Here are two ideas to try to infuse variety into your team’s work.

Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes for the mind to shift to another plane.


Take a group field trip to an art museum or art fair.  Break for lunch and spend 20 minutes brainstorming a work problem that the team has been struggling with in a café or park and see if the ideas that emerge are different than the ones you’ve been discussing back at the office.   

Doing something familiar, like brainstorming, in a different way surprises your mind into finding new solutions to old problems.

If you can’t get away from the worksite as a team, mix up the way you brainstorm.  Have everyone bring in a wide variety of magazines over a week or so.  Then have each individual cut out 10-12 pictures that resonate with them in some way.  Have the team use the pictures to make a map of how the group will get from where they are now to the place you want to be as an organization or department.

What ideas do you have?

Within each item above, slay, play and escape, there are examples of exercises that you can do with your team, but those are just a few of the endless possible ways you can promote creativity.

Yep, it’s your turn to get creative and think of some more!  Please share in the comment section below so we can all learn from one another.

If you’d like to read more about creativity in the workplace, check out this previous post: How Creativity Can Skyrocket Your Organization’s Success.

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