This is the third in a five-part series discussing skills critical for future success. Other articles cover critical thinking, communication, and entrepreneurship.
Talk about creativity in business and the conversation will soon lead to innovation. The words of big thinkers like Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, or Thomas Edison will be recalled to support the importance of creativity in enterprises.
In fact, creativity in an enterprise is much more foundational, permeating every department and workflow. Research has shown greater financial performance—as much as two-thirds higher than average—in firms that encourage creativity in the workforce. And while in addition to linking to innovation, creativity in your talent—whether employee or independent—generates a lot of other business benefits.
An organizational culture that fosters creativity encourages collaboration and teamwork. Workers can work together to brainstorm new ideas and think critically to devise new solutions to complex challenges. The latitude to apply creativity to the job can improve productivity, support worker wellness, and increase motivation. In turn, the company can improve workflows in operations, achieve new revenue streams, and take a more advantageous competitive position in its markets.
7 Characteristics of the Creative Worker
Day-to-day creativity in the workplace can be spotted in the ways people work and interact. Creative workers:
- Collaborate effectively with colleagues
- Ask questions to help them understand others’ ideas
- Share their ideas for improving processes or operations
- Are willing to take risks to test and refine ideas
- Question “the way we do things here”
- Are comfortable with ambiguity
- Learn from constructive feedback
Many high-value independent professionals have developed these characteristics in the course of the projects they work on and the teams they participate in. Engaging independent talent that demonstrate creativity can pay dividends through increased motivation, productivity, and output in the areas where they work
Hiring for Creativity
Including interview questions about creativity can help you gauge this soft skill in your potential contractors. Here are some to consider. In all cases, actively listen and ask follow up questions to get deeper detail.
How do you handle situations where colleagues don’t understand your creative ideas?
This question can help shed light on how the candidate helps others grasp creative ideas and how they use the need for better understanding to refine or explain the idea.
How have you inspired a client or team to be more creative?
This answer can give you insight into how the candidate interacts with others and their effectiveness in fostering creativity among colleagues and clients.
Tell me about creatively solving a problem to get the job done.
In addition to listening to their story, note the story they choose. For example, they might offer details related to a project they were hired for, which can illustrate their willingness to take risks in client engagements when there is a chance of a good outcome. Or they might describe addressing a challenge in their own company, which can give you a view of how they use creativity to help them grow business.
Tell me about achieving buy-in from a client or team for an out-of-the-box idea.
This turns up the heat a bit in terms of turning an idea into reality. Achieving buy-in can mean the allocation of resources and a commitment from management to the idea. Make note of how the candidate was able to move the needle in favor of the idea and what was the final result.
Do you have a process to include creativity in a problem-solving session? If so, describe it.
There are a lot of exercises that help foster creativity in a group setting. See what exercises the client has used and how well they worked to solve problems.
What has been the biggest success resulting from your creative approach?
This question will likely be answered with great enthusiasm and detail. If possible, get quantitative results like sales increase, cost savings, or time savings.
Creative thinking is vital throughout an enterprise. It is a precursor to innovative solutions that meet customers’ needs, streamline operations, boost productivity, and galvanize the worker experience. Also a useful note is that the majority of the world’s most innovative organizations are also the most valuable. Hire creativity into your optimized workforce and your organization can see big results.