Why We Need Creativity & Innovation in the Workplace
07 Mar

Why We Need Creativity & Innovation in the Workplace

creativity employee training and development

With workplaces needing to cut costs and often cut headcount, people need to think differently – and that means getting creative like never before.

 

With the majority of organisations needing to become more efficient and ultimately do more with less, many rush into this without revising old ways of working.  This in turn often leads to stressed employees, missed deadlines, unhappy customers (internal and external), and a wholly unhappy place to be.  We’ve seen many high profile cases of companies going into or almost going into liquidation (HMV, Jessops, Blockbusters, Republic), proving that now more than ever, businesses must keep up to date with changing trends and constantly challenge the way things are done to not only stay current, but profitable too.

 

So how often do we actually stop to think about how to challenge old ways of doing things?  We are all guilty of complaining about there not being enough hours in the day, never enough time to do what is required of us just to keep our heads above water, so the easiest option is of course to just do what we’ve always done.  Getting creative doesn’t have to take a lot of time, it’s simply about considering other ways of doing things.  Sure, it might be that once you have considered other options that the best solution is what you would have done anyway, but if you don’t go through the process you’d never know.

 

Many people consider themselves uncreative.  This can trace right back to childhood, when we were told we couldn’t draw, or our talents lay elsewhere.  Or perhaps as adulthood loomed we put away those childish things and grew up; considering a sensible job, paying the rent / mortgage and other such commitments as the final nails in our creative coffin.  If this sounds like you, consider two things:

 

  1. When was the last time you did something seriously creative?  Either at work or at home, it doesn’t matter.  If you struggle to think of something then it’s not surprising that you feel uncreative.  Creativity is like a muscle, it needs constant exercise or else it withers away.  Classical pianists don’t just become great at playing the piano overnight, it takes constant time and focus (but you’ll be glad to know you don’t need to flex your creative muscle for quite as many hours a day to be great at getting creative!).
  2. Don’t be tempted to think of creativity as blue sky and beanbags.  It’s easy for us to think about what creativity looks like outside of work (arts & crafts, dressmaking, cops & robbers, doctors & nurses!), however when it comes to work creativity can take many forms.  We each have our own unique preferences when it comes to getting the creative juices flowing.  Some people will prefer to think through options themselves whilst others will thrive on the energy of a group discussion.  You may also prefer structured and methodical ways of coming up with new ideas or more abstract methods.  Either way it’s important to identify your own preferred approach, so take some time to identify this.

 

There are a myriad of different tools and techniques out there that can help you to get creative.  Below we offer one for generating new ideas (it’s probably the best known of the lot but that doesn’t mean it’s always used the way it should be!), and one for whittling down your long list of creative options into your few possibles to proceed with.

 

Generating new ideas: Try ‘Brainstorming’

Whoa there!  Before you skip past this bit thinking you know about brainstorming, please read on!  This is arguably the granddaddy of creative thinking tools, but with fame comes mis-use and abuse.  A good brainstorm can be done with groups of people over short or longer time periods depending on what’s being ‘stormed’.  It works because people trigger each others thinking which leads onto constantly new and different or associated ideas and it allows people to think big rather than be restricted…but therein lies the problem with brainstorming.  How many of us have been sat in one of these when each and every suggestion has been subjected to analysis-paralysis or shot down because “that wouldn’t work” or “we’ve tried that before”?

 

So…here are some simple steps to help you to have a successful brainstorm:

  • Have some help – whether it’s a facilitator or a neutral party, try and have someone who can keep things on track and bring everyone back to that big thinking when the debate heats up.
  • What are you brainstorming – make sure everyone is clear on what it is you are trying to generate ideas for.
  • Collect all ideas – capture everything that is offered and spend no time filtering or analysing…that comes later.  This bit is all about quantity over quality.
  • “If you have nothing nice to say…” – by far the hardest part of most brainstorms: keeping a lid on critical evaluation.  Introducing critique at this stage will only stop people from contributing.
  • Brief the ‘rules’ – because brainstorming has been around for so long, most people think it’s easy (which of course it is!)…but you might need to walk through some or all of these steps with your group before you begin, so that everyone is on the same page.

 

Distilling your creative ideas:  Try ‘Negative Selection’

So you’ve gotten creative on how to market your new widget, and you have a list of ideas as long as the combined length of arms in your department.  Maybe a 100 foot plasma billboard suspended above The Thames won’t work, but perhaps it might…!  Essentially, what you are doing here is whittling your list into your no’s and maybe’s, just like you would do when you were considering which breed of dog to adopt or what kind of car to buy.  Be careful not to label the whacky and inventive ideas with a ‘no’ just because they’re whacky and inventive; you could always keep it in the ‘maybe’ pile and come back to it later, or consider if there is a simpler alternative of the idea.  You want to end with a shortlist that has a number of workable and unique ideas, not just a pile of logical, sensible and totally uninspiring ones.

 

So, challenge yourself and your business today.  Think big and think differently…the world is changing and we all need to change with it or get left behind.

 

At Right Trax Training we can help your managers, teams and business to be more creative. Find out more about our employee training and development and get in touch to discuss how we can help.

Personality Profiling: Do Opposites Really Attract?
03 Nov

Personality Profiling: Do Opposites Really Attract?

At Right Trax Training, we use personality profiling to support our own, often opposing styles…which can be ‘fun’!

 

Personality profiling is something that we feel passionate about. For us, we deliver much in the way of MBTI and Insights Discovery training and workshops. Tools like these can benefit the workplace and relationships immensely, if used in the ‘right‘ way.

 

Here’s an overview of how we differ:

CHRISYVETTE
Conscious preferenceIntroverted ThinkingExtroverted Feeling
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®ISTJENFP
MBTI Personality Types®
Insights Discovery® conscious colour order
We’ve gained great value from completing various personality profiles, which have helped us to understand that we are very different in our styles, approaches and preferences. This in turn has allowed us to develop the areas we may need to ‘turn up’ or focus on and leverage what comes really naturally to us.

 

Perhaps the biggest benefit however, is using the information to show us where each other is stronger (yes: and weaker), so that we can bounce off each other – which works great whether we’re deep in the detail of a proposal or facilitating events at fast pace!

 

All too often, we hear that opposites clash, and that we will lock horns with anyone very different to us. Of course, that may be true sometimes, but truly understanding our own preferences allows us to adapt and connect much more effectively with those around us, so that we easily complement and synergise with those who are opposite to us.

CHRISYVETTE
Tendency to…Focus on detail and pragmatismFocus on the intuitive and possibilities
Aim for perfectionKnow when good is good enough
Might say…“Have you proofread this?”“I gave it a quick scan!”
“But how is it going to work?”“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Key strengthAnalytical and systematicInteractive and inspirational approach
Key weaknessImpatient with others he sees as having lower standardsCan over-react to relatively small issues
When communicating, do…Respect his values and principlesBe alive and entertaining
When communicating, do not…Dismiss his thoughts or ideas as negativeAssume that her sunny disposition means that she agrees with everything you say
Can easily leverage…Critical analysisGenerating quick ideas
Consciously focuses on turning up…Energy for training delivery and facilitationAttention to detail

Get in touch to find out more about the MBTI and Insights Discovery training and workshops that we offer and how they can help your people and your business!

Book Review: ‘The People Formula’ by Jane Sunley
28 Sep

Book Review: ‘The People Formula’ by Jane Sunley

Introduction

In The People Formula, Jane Sunley aims to ‘dramatically improve the performance and profitability of your business’ through the application of 12 steps which address many important business challenges. These steps address issues such as how to get buy-in from the top, driving employee engagement and delivering practical learning and development. The book is not written solely for HR professionals, but should be relevant no matter the size of your organisation, whether you are CEO, HR Director or someone in between.

 

What’s It Like?

What sets The People Formula apart from many of its counterparts is the no-nonsense and down to earth writing style, which at once makes the material more accessible and understandable in terms of how to pragmatically apply the advice in the real world. Each chapter is backed up with short and snappy real-life examples and advocates (“Don’t just take it from me”), with lots of space throughout for the reader to make personal notes and commitments.

 

The book addresses the important ‘why’ and ‘what if’ questions rather than just the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, with focused and relevant statistics (for example, to highlight the importance of digitising social media in HR). There is lots of great advice offered, particularly on highlighting the importance of the employer brand, targeting culture and values and getting internal communications right by keeping it simple and not assuming all messages have been received.

 

Some of the main positives to The People Formula also transfer to the main criticism, which is that it attempts to cover so much ground in the 12 steps. This gives each chapter between eight to fifteen pages of content, so often at the end of a chapter it feels like great tips and advice have been offered, however it doesn’t offer much more depth in knowing how to go forward. The light and easy layout, with ample space for notes and lots of white space between chapters may also give a nod to bulking out the sometimes limited content across more pages.

 

Summary

The People Formula encourages focus on something often forgotten in the business world: the people (in case you hadn’t guessed that from the title!). It avoids the intangible, which is regularly associated with the HR profession. It is recommended for an excellent overview of how to get a myriad of important challenges right, but may leave the reader wanting to refer elsewhere for the nitty gritty.

 

At Right Trax Training, we can help you to get a key element of your people formula right: learning and development! Get in touch to find out more.


Originally posted on trainingzone

Flexible Working: The Way We Work is Changing!
30 Sep

Flexible Working: The Way We Work is Changing!

With 1 in 3 of the UK workforce quoting flexible working as their top employer attribute, businesses must respond accordingly to attract the best talent.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.40.26

Forget the debates of the past like the issues of working in open-plan offices; we are now turning our attention to a whole new set of concerns. With more people working from home, how do we deal with the problems of noise, distraction, indoor-air quality, and lack of mobility when often ‘work’ is no longer an actual place?

Once the likely domain of ‘creatives’ and freelancers, the new home ‘office’ requires organisations to increasingly depend on an individual’s ability to effectively communicate with their virtual team from a distance.

The concept of a static ‘job description’ is also fading fast. The workers of the future are already thinking about income security, not necessarily job security. Many people are building varied portfolios of work, rather than relying on a single income. This can work in favour of both the business and the employee.

If an employee is thinking “What skills do I need?” instead of “What role will I have for the next 10 years?” then they are constantly motivated to improve themselves and their skill set in order to try to stay at the top of their game.

Businesses benefit by being able to identify the skills they need for the project at hand and having the means to assemble the best talent possible to achieve the best results. Their workers are very open to developing and improving, and more realistic about what would once have been considered ‘outside’ people being used for collaboration.

The future is likely to involve lots of one person companies, where the work is taken to the worker, rather than the worker to the work, with everything operating very differently when we no longer need to commute. The changing way we work will impact all aspects of business, including staff development and IT costs.

The Sharing Economy (a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human and physical resources) is one to watch. Its concept is one of shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations.

Watch this space…!

Right Trax Training are a learning & development consultancy who are passionate about helping businesses to develop their people to be better at what they do. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you to navigate through the changing landscape of today’s workplace!


*Figures from Jobsite survey

Are You Developing Your Soft Skills?
15 Jul

Are You Developing Your Soft Skills?

Interpersonal soft skills

Exhibiting attributes such as excellent communication skills, a positive attitude, and the ability to work well as part of a team, are rapidly overtaking the usual suspects such as language skills or computer programming.

 

It seems that the most sought after qualities for today’s top employers are those loosely referred to as the ‘soft skills’, or ‘emotional intelligence’.

Recent reports indicate that many employers do not recruit candidates only for what they may have learned at university, but for qualities like strength of character, determination and resolve. The thought process being that ‘business-specific’ technical knowledge can be acquired if the soft skills and emotional intelligence already exist.

The right stuff…

Do you have what it takes to claim emotional intelligence? Here are some indicators:

  • Trustworthy, loyal, dependable. Businesses value employees they can trust to get the job done. Demonstrate your work ethic by being on time, and reliable. It’s imperative to meet deadlines, show you’re a team player, and prove that you can stay focused whilst at work.
  • Creative, inventive, resourceful. Irrespective of your position, many employers will – on occasion – expect you to make a presentation of some sort. Being able to engage your audience, convey information succinctly, and gain their understanding may be the deal-breaker.
  • Problem solving, critical thinking. Your ability to overcome a challenge in the workplace will serve you well. Demonstrate your capacity to solve problems, and face obstacles at work, in a resourceful fashion.
  • Coaching, leadership, mentoring. You will always be judged a strong candidate if you show willing to help your fellow team members and co-workers. Volunteering to take the lead on a project shows courage and ambition.
  • Cultural fit, compatibility, ethics. It’s important that you reflect the company’s culture.  Prospective employers will be searching for candidates who share their corporate outlook.
  • Flexible, adaptable, focused. Have a ‘can do’ attitude, and understand that targets and tasks may need to be changed at very short notice. If you are able to quickly adapt whilst still remaining focused on the objectives then you are indeed any company’s dream employee!
  • Have an opinion, accept feedback, be open to change. Team members who are confident in their ideas, but also happily give and receive feedback, are key influencers in many workplaces. Be sure that you not only share ideas but give considered answers to any questions, and challenge others’ thoughts respectfully.

 

At Right Trax Training, we specialise in developing your business through your key asset; your people. View our range of interpersonal skills workshops and get in touch to find out how we can help you and your people to develop these important attributes!

 

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Tidy Desk, Uncreative Mind?
10 Aug

Tidy Desk, Uncreative Mind?

What does your work space look like…do you work at a tidy, organised clean desk where everything has a place or is it at risk of being condemned for chaos and disorder? A recent study has suggested that having a disorganised desk and environment may encourage creative thinking and stimulates innovation.

Many of us work in regulated environments where there is a need to have a clear desk in order to satisfy confidentiality and security requirements. However, we don’t really have to have a minimalistic style just to fulfil legal and regulatory obligations. As long as confidential information is not kept out in the open then should a messy desk be frowned upon or viewed as a space to harness creativity?

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Albert Einstein 

Let’s get rid of some popular myths surrounding creativity…it’s not only the domain of your Marketing team, it’s not just beanbags and blue sky thinking and you don’t need to be a “certain” type of person to be creative. In fact, the potential to be creative is in us all. Everything we do or say has creative potential, whether it’s cooking a new recipe or trialling a different route to work. You don’t have to paint pictures, create dramatic sculptures or write inspiring poetry to be considered creative…the inner artist is within each of us.

So how can you spark your own creativity? We all get creative in different ways so here are some thoughts to help inspire your inner artist…

  • Curiosity killed the cat…or did it? Question the norm and challenge existing theories or policies; don’t think that the mundane and mediocre has to be accepted. Ask the questions that you’ve always wanted to ask and be brave. The only silly question is the one that doesn’t get asked.
  • Go with your gut – Don’t be put off by scepticism and trust your own instincts. Be bold and adventurous and don’t let the impossible stop you from achieving the possible.
  • A room with a view – Creativity is about looking at things in new ways or from a different perspective and generating new possibilities or alternatives  So what type of environment inspires you…do you need external stimulation with energetic music and gadgets or a quiet calm place which helps to maintain focus?
  • I want to be alone – Creativity doesn’t necessarily require a room full of people brainstorming. Sitting down in a quiet, comfortable space reflecting or thinking quite deeply has its advantages, but do get input from others to help spark more thoughts and ideas.
  • Let’s brainstorm – This is one of the most well-known tools and is used to trigger and challenge our own thinking. Bouncing off the thoughts of others can get us out of a thought-rut and open up new creative avenues.  Always establish ground rules to create a purposeful environment where everyone feels valued and included…read more on brainstorming here.
  • Have fun – Positive thinking can spur creativity so it’s important to enjoy yourself and not take things too seriously.
  • Don’t be a couch potato – Creative thinking needs to be exercised and developed regularly, so investigate new and different methods and techniques.

What do you think…does your workspace influence your own creative thinking?  Tell us in the comments below.

At Right Trax Training we can help your people to be more creative, tidy desks or not!  Get in touch to find out how we can help.

Managing in the Sun
07 May

Managing in the Sun

With the appearance of some long-awaited sunshine, it’s worth remembering the benefits it can bring for team productivity and happiness.

With 2012 reported as the second wettest year on record for the UK and a more than frosty start to Spring this year, it feels like the sunshine most of us are currently enjoying is long overdue.  And it’s great.

Doesn’t it make us happier, more light-hearted souls, inside and outside of work?  But do we stop to consider how we can use this glorious sunshine to help us during working hours, rather than simply rushing for the exit at clocking-off time to light the barbecue?

When times are tough it’s time to get inventive; your teams will be motivated by the fact that you are a manager that can think outside the box, which in this case is the four walls that get between them and some serious vitamin D.

So here are a few tips to get you started:

    1. Take it outside – Consider having your one to one and team meetings outside.  Sunshine boosts our levels of serotonin (the body’s natural happy hormone), so this should make them more enjoyable and perhaps even more productive, as long as you keep it focused.  You could even think about using someone’s garden for the location of your next team day and shave some pennies off the budget at the same time!
    2. Walk the talk – Some light exercise can create more endorphins that, when combined with sunshine, can help to ward off low levels of depression.  Is there a local park nearby?  Perhaps you could even just use the perimeter of the office.
    3. Your next team ‘do’ – Give the bowling alley the elbow and use the sunshine to your advantage by having a barbeque or picnic at the beach or a nice park…go easy on the Pimms!
    4. Lots of lolly – Surprise the team by getting in some ice lollies to cool them down during the hot weather…a nice idea on a hot Friday afternoon.
    5. Homeworking in the sun – You may notice an increase in the amount of homeworking being requested when the sun is at it’s hottest…funny that!  We’ve talked about the pros and cons of homeworking recently, so if you can measure the workload and ensure productivity, why not go for win-win and let them work in the garden?

Put some thought into what you can do and remember: never overdo the sun.  Burning and excessive exposure will increase the risk of skin cancer so encourage the team to cover up and have a bottle of sunscreen on standby (minimum SPF15!).

Let us know what you think in the comments below; what other tips do you have for managing in the sun?

At Right Trax Training we can help your managers and teams to be better at what they do. Get in touch to find out how.