Do you pay much creed to creativity when hiring? Does it fall to the way side in comparison to experience, qualifications and technical skills?
It may not seem important to pay any attention to creativity. Who cares if your new admin assistant has a music degree or writes in her spare time? While you’d be forgiven for being in this mindset, someone’s creative nature is actually a lot more important than you might think.
While “creativity” often appears in job adverts, many employers don’t give it the weight it deserves. But why? As important as qualifications and experience are, they won’t help in an unpredictable workplace. When new problems arise, you need people who can think on their feet and find a solution. Creative problem solving is an important skill to have. You need someone who can use what’s available and quickly solve an issue to minimise disruption. This isn’t a skill you gain easily just from training or experience.
For something to be creative problem solving, the solution must be novel and come about independently. It means saving money and time. Too often people will see a problem and, rather than assess it properly themselves, just call someone else in. If you’re having to call out firms all the time it’s going to be costly and you’re going to have to wait. It’s surprising how many of these problems could be solved permanently with a bit of leftfield thought.
Innovation is a product of creative problem solving, too. Workplaces can get stale, especially so if there is no active attempt to assess or overhaul how things are done. It can be all too easy to maintain the status quo and keep with the edict “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But guess what: this is foolish.
It’s not enough for things to tick over nicely with no obvious issues. You should be wanting maximum efficiency, no matter what the work environment. It can of course be costly to do this sort of investigation, but if you have creative people around, they’ll end up finding new solutions without prompting, whether it’s re-arranging the office or changing the filing system.
This is the heart of the matter: it isn’t about having creative people in creative positions. Their insight is valuable, whatever position they’re in. This isn’t in any way a knock against those who don’t have a creative side, it’s just that, in most cases, they are already in the majority in the workplace. Leaning towards hiring creative people over those who might be more experienced will bring fresh eyes to the business. It’s always going to be a juggling act, so keep your core needs in mind – I’d never suggest picking someone with minimal coding experience over another with five years of it for a programming position, just because they play guitar.
If you already have lots of creative people on your team, then you should also be working to encourage them (and everyone else) to explore their ideas. The results can be incredible. Google is a great example of this. They make sure that their staff spends a fifth of their time working on their own projects. Not only does it make them happier employees, it can yield great things for your business. This led to the creation of Gmail, Google News and AdSense. Without encouraging the creative aspects of its employees, Google wouldn’t have some of the biggest services it offers today. It plays a massive part in Google’s huge success as a company.
Just remember to keep in mind, creative does not necessarily mean aspiring rockstar. You shouldn’t fall down the trap of equating musician with poor worker. Try to avoid stereotyping. A balanced workforce is always a positive, so keep in the mind the different skillset of creative people. You may never need their ability to paint incredible landscapes, but when they come up with ideas that could increase efficiency and save you money, you’ll be glad to have them on your team.
Joshua Danton Boyd is a copywriter for Crunch Accounting.
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