Saturday, November 24, 2007

You can be creative interpersonally, externally and as a manager

Creativity begins in childhood and we continue to use it in our personal and professional lives as adults. Creativity comprises inventiveness and resourcefulness, which varies with different individuals and changes at different stages of maturity. Creativity is an oft-used term in many contexts. It is probably best described as a personal characteristic that can be applied at several levels and to diverse activities. One can use ingenuity to enhance the impact of anything one chooses. Creativity at the workplace usually refers to applying it to the pure nature/routine tasks of our job and role. In some occupations, originality in work is explicit in the job description while in others it is not spelt out but assumed. We can use creativity in different ways at work - interpersonally, externally and as a manager. Here are a few areas in which one can utilise one’s originality:

1. Creativity in people management -
As operating managers, we use multiple strategies and tactics to keep the team motivated, retain people and increase their efficiency. With time, these strategies become institutionalised and their impact depletes. It is important to devise new and original methods periodically to manage people. Try other than tested routes in handling crises or conflict and deviate from the regularly-used practices. This relieves the leader of predictability, energises the group and brings a personal touch. For example, invite employee spouses/families not just to one offsite event a year, but to important department celebrations/ felicitations and let them participate in the joy of achievement.

2. Creativity in administrative processes -
Administration is a tedious process. Scope for creativity is low where work involves compliance and other compulsions. Be inventive in the way you manage humdrum procedures and try to make them more interesting or, at least, less time-consuming. Use your imagination to enhance the efficacy of administration. For example, you can outsource minor functions that need not necessarily be performed in house to retired employees of that department.

3. Creativity in managing customers -
industries and every organisation has its typical way of managing clients and customers. These systems are a combination of experience, best practices and feedback. Use client interaction and observations innovatively and wisely, put into operation any information gained from feedback to bring more value out of every client. For example, use customer profiles to make clients aware of their potential needs apart from the immediate ones.

4. Creativity in managing competition -
When a manager encounters competitors, s/he carefully uses market intelligence to formulate strategies. It is how you interpret data and perceive market dynamics that can severely affect your performance. Instead of seeing market competition and movement from the popular view, one should strive to look at it from other perspectives. Allow yourself to be radically different in your vision and try to work on a novel idea to fight rivals. For example, visualise whether your product or service can be sold as a complementary product instead of as competition to that of a rival’ s!

5. Creativity in learning -
With time, your learning curve at work starts to plateau. This is not because you are doing the same job everyday, but because you may have stopped using your imagination in the learning experience. The same task can teach a variety of lessons at different points in time. What is important is how innovatively you leverage your situation to gain fresh knowledge from everyday responsibilities. For instance, try to think of this example innovatively, by yourself. Creativity requires inspiration, a general inclination to analyse things in an unusual way and alter them positively. It can assume large proportions and become life impacting or be used for mundane and practical tasks.

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