I had a nickel for every time I went to a manager or supervisor I had back when I working in the ‘cubes and said something like, “So I have this crazy idea…” I’d probably have enough for a small meal from a fast food restaurant, or at least the latest copy of Marie Claire magazine. And their oncoming hesitance at what I was proposing began adding up. Enough that I quit my full-time job to go full-time freelance in 2011. I learned that I wanted to work with people that appreciated my ideas and would tell me if they were a little too far-fetched, but for the most part, supported my creativity.
This is what I’ve learned is the key for businesses in creating amazing content, products, and services: having trust in your employees’ creativity.
An open trust relationship between management and employees is mutually beneficial for all sides. If employees know that their ideas are going to be received with open arms and at least deserve a discussion, they will learn to lean into their creativity more, which leads to much better ideas and output for a company.
When you are an amazing mobile programmer, a graphic designer, or writer, your creativity is something that needs to be fostered. Feeling comfortable and respected in the environment you are in is part of that process.
Geoffrey James wrote in an article on winning employee trust for Inc.com that managers should “Listen more and talk less. By the very nature of things, your employees know more about your customers than you do. Therefore, if you truly want your business to succeed, keep your ears more open and your mouth more shut.”
The Eventual Disconnect
Whenever an employee’s ideas are shut down time and time again (like mine were), employees become disheartened and disengaged from their projects. They often do the bare minimum, afraid that if they add their own flair or additional touches, they will just have to redo it once management reviews it.
This is disastrous for employers, even though they don’t necessarily see it that way. They are just wanting output that fits its pre-determined parameters.
But with every project or initiative, no matter whether it is a product manual or shaping the content strategy for social media, needs a little leeway, no matter the industry. No one would expect Picasso or Michelangelo to paint their best works shut into a grey 8 x 8 foot cubicle, with no inspiration or creative community flow to draw from, would they?
Creating Company Culture
Creating the best content possible goes beyond hiring the best person for the job. It also entails trusting the employee to know what they are doing and nurturing their ideas (along with everyone else’s) in a supportive environment that works to provide the best version of everything employees do.
A recent study reported on Harvard Business Review about employees feeling appreciated in the workplace found that, “People who worked in a culture where they felt free to express affection, tenderness, caring, and compassion for one another were more satisfied with their jobs, committed to the organization, and accountable for their performance.”
When employees come to management with new or innovative ideas, they should be listened to and respected. In this time of developing trends and new methods of communication and ways to reach your target audience (through social media, video, and more), any ideas employees have on how to reach an audience better through content in these mediums need to be taken into consideration. A supportive company culture can help keep ideas flowing—which will lead to great content from employees.