To get something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done before. The same applies to the workplace and your team.
The truth is, to spark creativity in a team, you have to be creative as a leader and think outside the box. You cannot expect your team to be innovative if you don't provide an environment and setup that allows it, so it is important to take certain measures to guarantee this. Here are a few ideas that I've found work well.
Hire for Diversity
And by diversity, I mean truly diverse. Hire people with different passions, from different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures who have been exposed to different ways of thinking and dealing with situations. The synergy and cooperation of people with different ways of viewing the world and taking on projects can spark an extraordinary level of creativity that just may revolutionize your team and your company. Do not try to dampen people's differences and individuality; instead, celebrate and embrace them, which will in turn add incomparable value to your team and output. Here at Cyberclick, we normally have international students with us as well, creating a healthy, diverse environment. Most of our team speaks Spanish, English and French, and we switch between the languages regularly, helping us keep them fresh and present.
Hire for Harmony
While diversity matters, is also important to build a team of people that is in sync with both each other's and your company's visions, values and goals. Make sure to hire people who truly live by these same values, and share the same vision for your team and product.
The first three weeks after hiring a new team member are crucial for us. If after this time we are not completely convinced they belong on our team, and vice versa, we choose not to continue the relationship.
Now, this does not in any way mean that you should hire people who always agree with each other. Rather, you should encourage critical thinking and different perspectives on the same values.
Hire for Passion
Qualification and experience are important beyond any shadow of a doubt, but it is just as important to hire people who are passionate about and love what they do. Hire people who really care and support the cause you are working for, and who consider their team's success to be their personal success as well. These will be the people who will make an effort to keep up with your industry and sector, stay ahead of the curve in terms of new products, technologies and techniques, and search for any possible way to improve their work.
The interview process is crucial here. While interviewing potential new team members, we make sure to ask questions such as what kind of job they would do if salary weren't an issue, and what kinds of projects they work on of their own accord. This way you find out where their true passion lies.
Set Them Free
Give your team autonomy. The whole point of having a diverse and dedicated team is that everyone will bring something unique to the table, but this cannot happen if they are too regulated and forced to stick to a certain way of thinking or working. Don't get me wrong, it is critical to have set goals and targets, but what's not good is telling your team exactly how to get there. Companies of the future will need to have trust in their employees and not force them to clock in exactly at 8:00 a.m. if they want to foster a culture of innovation and creativity.
At Cyberclick, we give our team members a 100 percent flexible schedule and unlimited vacation days throughout the year, and the key to that is trust. If you trust in your team members, you'll find this flexibility to be purely beneficial, effective and productive.
Laugh and Celebrate
Happiness and fun in the workplace are some of the most important factors when it comes to generating creativity and productivity. There is nothing better than working alongside people who are more than just colleagues, but are also actually your friends. This means it's going to take more, however, than just putting on an annual team-building event. Make an effort to bring happiness into your office on a daily basis, even if it means just a 20-minute coffee break or lunch together as a team. You should also celebrate as a team once you have achieved any goals you may have set. At my company, we hold celebrations every trimester and organize after-work activities and dinners on a regular basis. As well, a morning coffee break is a vital part of our day.
These are just a few steps you can take to set the tone for creative thinking. Not all of these ideas will work with all teams. But if you take it upon yourself to be the trendsetter and get creative, you will find creativity (and a happy team) will follow.
David Tomás is a young entrepreneur and Cofounder of Cyberclick Group, a leading digital marketing company. He likes talking about decision-making, new forms of creativity, personal and professional fulfillment, and how to build the happiest company in the world, which is the title of his new book. His company Cyberclick was named Best Workplace in 2014 and 2015.