Have you ever sat down in front of your computer to start working on a new project — and your mind goes blank? It happens to the best professionals in every industry, and it’s typically short-lived. However, when your whole team experiences a creative slump at the same time, it can be challenging to recover. They will probably turn to you for advice and support, so you need to know how to get everyone back on track.
Navigating roadblocks, upholding a positive company culture, and providing the resources and direction needed is critical to the success of the entire team. How do you do this, you ask? Here are a few strategies you can use to get your team through a creative hurdle and back to being productive and innovative in no time.
The first step to solving this problem is to recognize the signs of the team being in a slump. It’s easy to miss these signs when you are pulled in several directions that keep you away from the center of the group. Here are a few things to look:
- Your employees seem bored: Coming to work and doing the same thing day after day can zap anyone’s creativity. If it feels like people are just going through the motions, they may be in a slump.
- Increase in the number of absences: Stress and worry can cause some bothersome symptoms. If your team members are calling off for stomach issues, headaches, or just generally feeling down and unwell, you might want to take an inventory of the team’s performance and current culture.
- Monday’s are hard to get through: If you look around on Monday morning and everyone looks like they’re “down in the dumps,” this could be a sign that your staff needs to tap into some fun and energetic activities.
Creativity is often spurred during times of increased communication that happens during a good old-fashioned brainstorming session. Block out some time in the day and put all of the team members in a room with minimal outside distractions. Start the session with an ice-breaker to get the creativity flowing and set the tone for the day. This is also a great opportunity to assess your team member’s interpersonal abilities, like problem-solving skills, teamwork, and active listening.
Some leaders get laser-focused on the end goal and forget to keep the team informed about each step that must be taken along the way. Writing down the team’s goals in a prominent area can keep everyone focused on critical tasks that need to happen.
Break down goals into smaller steps and include details about the project timeline that might help move everyone forward. You can also break goals down into short- and long-term deadlines. For example, if you need to meet one metric by the end of the calendar year, you may want to create a goal for each month. This strategy can help the team reach the ultimate year-end goal in smaller steps.
Changing up the seating chart can help stimulate productivity and creativity. Many workplaces have older cubicles with tall walls to keep noise levels down. However, along with suppressing noise, tall walls may hinder ideas, communication, and teamwork. Consider opening up your space, if possible.
Look into shorter cubicle walls or rearranging cubicles so that two to four people sit together in a group. You might also want to remove barriers altogether. If changing up the space isn’t an option, find a room or area where you can set up a long table with multiple ports for computers and phones. Encourage teammates to work in this space whenever they need to work or problem-solve together.
Collaboration that comes from working with others is sure to boost creativity. You may need to shake things up a bit to get everyone out of their slump. Try pairing employees up with people they don’t work with every day. Give new assignments or have each group take one part of the work and come back together to review and critique each team’s work.
If your team is suffering from a severe creative slump, it may be time to try something a little unorthodox. Close the office down for a day or two and take a field trip. Visit a local amusement park, book an escape room activity, pottery class, or another team-building event. Having fun together is an excellent way to keep your team happy and can increase closeness and stimulate innovative ideas. Your team will feel better and may even open up about workplace problems when they see that you are dedicated to helping them meet goals.
Every team experiences periods of low creativity, regardless if it’s made up of teachers, artists, or engineers. As a leader, you must recognize what’s happening and not keep pushing for increased productivity. Instead, take a step back and use these new strategies to boost innovation and get everyone back on track.