Managers looking to boost team performance need to minimize mistakes without crushing creativity. Some bosses may inadvertently suppress people’s creative insights. While bragging about innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, these bosses fail to notice that company systems often discourage creativity. This ingrained, often invisible problem has an adverse side effect: It can diminish profits.
I’ve seen this happen in companies where I’m contracted to help improve performance. In managers’ zeal to encourage efficiency, they strive to minimize uncertainty and errors. But an error-free workplace doesn’t guarantee business success. Products and services are too easily commoditized and replicated. More is required.
“Businesspeople stand on the threshold of the knowledge society. In this society, a company’s competitive advantage will come from an historically underdeveloped asset: the ability to capture and apply insights from diverse fields.”~ Peter Drucker (The Economist, 2001)
Improving performance for long-term success requires a two-pronged managerial approach: Focus on reducing errors while increasing insights. Your business will stagnate without improvements on both fronts.
Most managers concentrate on reducing errors: the obvious half of the equation. They know mistakes are visible, costly and embarrassing. They apply their training to spot gaps and errors, and they implement measures to eliminate mistakes.
But many managers forget about the second step. Businesses cannot surge ahead in the marketplace without creating insights. If you’re too intent on eradicating uncertainty and accurately predicting workflow/resources/schedules, you may not be receptive to your people’s fresh ideas—suggestions that can save your company time and money.
Each of us is guilty of falling into predictability and perfection traps. Upholding the status quo yields the results we know, so why bother risking something new? But problems arise when we quash employees’ creative insights.
I hear about this managerial dilemma all the time from my coaching clients. When you’re in charge of people, the most obvious leverage points are to point out their mistakes. But how attuned are you to managing your peoples’ creative energies and potentials?
That’s why it so important to learn more about how to facilitate a working environment that’s creative and produces a flow of ideas. What are you doing about this in your work place?