It can be dangerously easy to slip into a mundane, repetitive routine at work. Wake up, go to work, go home and switch off. Repeat. As humans, we are programmed to work hard. It gives us purpose and drive… but could we be losing our passion and creativity while doing so? And furthermore, is this ironically taking a detrimental toll on our work-related performance?
Studies would say, yes. According to recent studies carried out on behalf of the recognised Royal Academy Of dramatic Art, most employers said that the actions of their managers and leaders did not support a culture of improvisation and creative thinking, and subsequently, “time pressures, poor workplace culture (such as high-pressure work environments where new ideas or original thought aren’t valued) and lack of training were the negative factors most likely to be having a detrimental effect on the performances of teams, and their ability to think creatively”.
The RADA report found that the vast majority (a whopping 91%) of employees had felt that they regularly experience situations where colleagues had failed to apply a flexible way of communicating and common sense, as a result of not being able to think in the moment. Following on from this, 93% of employees believed that being able to improvise would considerably improve their performance at work. This is saddening, but not alarming. How can steps be taken to reduce these ridiculous percentages? It seems that some creative culture is needed!
You may be thinking to yourself, I am simply not a creative individual, so I don’t have it to lose to begin with. Incorrect! You are not born innately creative or not creative. Do we all know that certain exceptionally creative friend, family member or co-worker? Yes…but we all have the ability, every single one of us to create something, and inquisitiveness is the starting point. Are you curious, interested, enjoy problem solving? Then there you have it… the gateway to creativity. We all have potential. We just need to be put into the appropriate, inspiring and encouraging environment.
If an organisation wishes to achieve excellence, creativity needs to be part of the furniture. And doesn’t every organisation wish to create a culture of excellence? Nobody wants a culture of good, or mediocre. Whichever profession or sector you are in, the service requires quality, to keep an organisation afloat. Of course, this by no means alludes to the notion of an office running riot, standing barefoot on desktops, in order to release their creative calling.
No, what employees need is to be given tasks and to have the freedom and responsibility to explore and work independently on these, rather than having strict regimes in place – it’s a different way of management culture. The RADA report found that the most common failings were when leaders put workers under the spotlight in meetings (53%), ask them to give presentations to a group (48%) and during performance reviews (44%) without enough preparation.
Of course, deadlines have always and will always be in place… it’s simply a case of giving employees enough space and time to perform to their best abilities, to deliver whatever this piece of work may be. After all, innovation and creativity in the workplace is where the most advanced and ground-breaking success stories come from.
Now, to end this on a refreshing, yet relevant note-the RADA study also found that 51% of employers have said that they find taking a deep breath helps them in compromising and stressful situations – would you look at that. As simple as it sounds, use your lungs. It is so very common amongst humans to stop breathing or display shallow breathing, when they experience stress or tension, which then limits the oxygen to your brain and – well you can speculate why breathing incorrectly could affect your cognitive performance!
So, take a deep breath, keep the creative juices flowing, whether you are an employer or employee – and keep exhaling that creativity and improvisation into your workplace.