BY: PAUL FALCONE
Creativity and innovation are critical skill sets that help companies stand apart from the pack—especially in terms of global competition. After all, while many U.S. manufacturing and white-collar customer service jobs have been “off-shored” over the past few decades, the United States remains home to the greatest innovation companies in the world. So broaden your employees’ understanding of what it means to reinvent their work in light of your organization’s changing needs. You don’t need to work in Silicon Valley or Hollywood to be creative or innovative. It simply takes a healthy dose of curiosity and a corresponding willingness to adjust your way of doing things to achieve greater efficiencies, customer accolades, and revenue-generating opportunities.
Raising the bar in terms of performance expectations isn’t as hard as most employers think. It’s simply a matter of defining what that particular core competency should look like in your company from this point forward. There’s no better place to start than with your company’s performance review template. Let’s look at a before-and-after snapshot of how to best describe your organizational expectations in terms of worker creativity and innovation.
Core, Traditional Descriptors
Sample performance appraisal language seen in various industries define “Creativity” or “Innovation” along the lines of the following:
- Generates original ideas and follows through to completion.
- Adds value by looking at existing systems and processes and volunteers recommendations that increase efficiency or save time.
- Suggests useful and valuable ideas that focus on novel and practical ways of re-approaching a process or system to enhance efficiencies or create value.
While this definition per se is fairly acceptable as written, it lacks the emotion or energy that you might otherwise expect in defining something as critical as creativity and innovation. Instead, try combining some of the following language elements to describe your company’s intentions more concretely . . .
Enhanced Descriptors Reflecting an Organization’s Heightened Expectations
- Regularly looks for opportunities to turn ideas into action, inject creativity into every touch point, and develop strategies for innovation.
- Focuses on identifying new parallels, patterns, variations, and analogies to generate fresh ideas.
- Thinks outside the proverbial box and volunteers well-thought-out recommendations based on sound logic and principles.
- Communicates openly, makes others feel welcome and safe to volunteer new ideas, and positively engages talent within the organization and across the value chain.
- Rethinks the routine with a fresh perspective and employs right-brain imagination with left-brain logic and planning.
Reinventing Workflow and Processes
- Looks for new ways of reinventing the workflow in light of our department’s changing needs.
- Simplifies processes, learns what works, and finds creative ways of implementing new technologies, systems, and processes.
- Regularly searches for new methods, techniques, and tools that increase efficiency and reduce costs.
- Encourages open discussion and collaboration with others to rethink routine processes and generate creative alternatives.
- Considers innovation in the workplace an ongoing responsibility and welcomes change as an integral part of both individual and company growth.
Setting Standards and Expectations for Innovation
- Views all employees as leaders, innovators, and change agents.
- Recognizes that innovation is the number one leadership competency of the future that will help our company differentiate itself from the competition.
- Regularly gains new perspectives from peers and team members and likewise provides constructive input relative to others’ ideas and suggestions.
- Fosters a spirit of creative collaboration and questions common practices in an effort to reinvent the routine.
- Encourages others to be inventive and take appropriate risks.
- Values creativity, productivity, and efficiency as the keys to career development.
Understanding the Role of Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace
Effective leadership and management skills are crucial in cultivating a culture of innovation and creativity.
- Innovation and creativity drive business growth by enabling companies to stand out from competitors.
- They cultivate a culture of continuous improvement, encouraging employees to seek out better ways of doing things.
- Innovation and creativity can lead to the development of new products, services, or processes that improve customer satisfaction and profitability.
- They promote a dynamic and engaging work environment, which can boost employee morale and productivity.
- By encouraging innovation and creativity, companies can adapt more quickly to changes in the market or industry.
Strategies for Promoting Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace
To promote a culture of innovation and creativity, it's crucial to leverage effective communication skills. These skills play a vital role in fostering collaboration and idea-sharing for business growth and success.
- Create a safe environment for idea-sharing: Encourage open communication and ensure that all ideas are valued and considered.
- Provide resources for learning and development: Offer workshops, training sessions, and resources that can help employees develop their creative thinking and innovative problem-solving skills.
- Recognize and reward innovative ideas and actions: Acknowledge employees who demonstrate creativity and innovation in their work, and consider implementing a rewards system to incentivize innovative thinking.
Measuring Creativity and Innovation in Performance Appraisals
Effectively measuring creativity and innovation during performance appraisals can be challenging, but it's crucial for recognizing and cultivating these skills in your team. Here are some tips:
- Set clear expectations: Make sure employees understand what is expected of them in terms of creativity and innovation.
- Use specific criteria to evaluate creativity and innovation: Look for evidence of creative thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to generate and implement new ideas.
- Provide constructive feedback: Use the appraisal as an opportunity to provide feedback on an employee's creative and innovative abilities, and offer suggestions for improvement.
The Impact of Creativity and Innovation on Employee Engagement and Retention
Fostering creativity and innovation can have a significant impact on employee engagement and retention. Consider the following points:
- Higher levels of engagement: Employees who are encouraged to be creative and innovative are likely to be more engaged in their work, leading to higher productivity levels.
- Increased job satisfaction: When employees feel that their ideas are valued and that they have the opportunity to be creative, they are likely to be more satisfied with their jobs.
- Improved retention: Companies that foster creativity and innovation are likely to have lower turnover rates, as employees are more likely to stay with a company where they feel their ideas are valued and they have opportunities for growth and development.
Creativity and innovation are more than just buzzwords – they're vital competencies that can drive business growth and success. As we've explored, it's not just about having these skills, but also about recognizing and fostering them in the workplace. From setting clear expectations to providing constructive feedback, from promoting a culture of innovation to measuring it effectively, every touch point matters. So, as you redefine your performance review template, remember to infuse it with the spirit of these oh-so-important core competencies. It's never too late to add an element of passion to your performance appraisals and inspire your team to reach new heights of creativity and innovation.
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