8 Ways to Motivate Creative Employees

By Harvard Business Review
June 3, 2019

In any team or organization, some individuals are consistently more likely to come up with ideas that are both novel and useful. These ideas are the seeds of innovation: the intellectual foundation for the new products and services that enable organizations to gain a competitive advantage.

Here are eight recommendations to get the most out of your creative employees:

  1. Assign them to the right roles. Make sure your creative employees are in roles that are meaningful and relevant to them. While creative people are generally more likely to experience higher levels of intrinsic motivation, they also perform worse when not intrinsically motivated.
  1. Build a team around them. Surround your creative employees with a good support system of implementers, networkers and detail-oriented project managers.
  1. Reward innovation. Paying only lip service to innovation will frustrate your creative employees. Conversely, if you incentivize people to come up with new ideas, even those who are not naturally creative will attempt to contribute new ideas.
  1. Tolerate their dark side. Creative individuals are naturally more irritable, moody and hard to please. But their ability to defy existing norms has the power to fuel innovation.
  1. Challenge them. Organizations that provide their most-talented people with personalized development plans and mentoring opportunities will benefit from increased creative performance.
  1. Apply the right amount of pressure. Evidence indicates there is an optimal amount of pressure to drive creativity. Managers must get this balance right.
  1. Promote cognitive diversity. Teams whose members have compatible, yet significantly different, psychological profiles are more likely to view problems differently and produce better decisions.
  1. Be humble. A leader’s humility is a significant predictor of a team’s creative output. Leaders should publicly admit their mistakes and give credit where it is due.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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