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Nurturing Ideas Or Killing Creativity?

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Nothing is more fragile than a new idea. Business owners and leaders often say that they want their teams to innovate and “think outside the box.” For this to happen, though, there need to be certain elements in place conducive to free thinking, idea generation and general “what would happen if…?” questions.

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There are three elements of motivation that have to align before your team members can fully harness their creativity and come up with those ideas that can revolutionize your business: motivation from within, motivation from their leaders and motivation from the organization. Failure in any of these areas can doom an idea before it has a chance to grow.

Motivation from Within

Inborn Drive — Natural curiosity and a desire to build new things or streamline existing process is essential to generating creativity. If a person simply doesn’t care about their job or their workplace, they won’t have the motivation necessary to let their mind go to the places where ideas form. When hiring new team members, it’s vital to judge their level of interest, ambition and determination.

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Continuing Training/Education — New information can spur new ideas. Sometimes even a seemingly unconnected bit of knowledge can fire the imagination to create ideas or adapt solutions from one field to another. Continual effort to develop on a personal and professional level gives a person more to think about and more to pull from when looking at their own world.

Setting Goals — If someone is hired for a job and has no desire to do more, be more or achieve more, creativity will pass them by. Establishing a career path and looking to the future gives their imagination something to focus on besides the “here and now.” People are more likely to come up with ideas if they see their creativity as a tool they can use to achieve what they’ve set out to accomplish.

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Motivation from Leaders

Energy/Passion — When a dealer, general manager or team leader comes into work with no energy and simply goes through the motions of the day, it can be a bucket of cold water on team morale and shuts down the creative engine. Why should they care more about the dealership than their leader? The leader sets the tone for the team — for better or worse.

Leaders Vs. Managers — Managers are there to make sure everyone gets in on time, gets their work done and that everyone plays well with one another. Managers rule from above with whatever authority they’ve been granted. Leaders are a part of the team, facilitate how best to get the job done and make judgment calls when necessary. People want to help a good leader because the leader helps the team. Leaders inspire the team to come up with better ways to get the job done, or even to find new and better goals to tackle. Managers are there to make sure everyone’s in their seat; leaders get people up on their feet.

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Motivation from Organization

Red Tape — Imagine one of your employees has a game-changing idea for your dealership. Their idea will put your company miles ahead of the competition and put money in everyone’s pocket. What kind of path would this great idea have to travel to become reality? Would it have to go through round after round of approval? Would it have to be discussed in endless meetings until the enthusiasm was beaten out of it? Would it be strangled before it could draw breath? While a dealership shouldn’t put every notion into immediate practice, have a process in place where an idea with potential gets in front of the right people — those who can make the decision, earlier rather than later.

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Atmosphere/Culture — Does your dealership have a knee-jerk “we’ve always done it this way” atmosphere, where new ideas and fresh thoughts are discouraged? Keep in mind this discouragement doesn’t have to be explicit. After they’ve been at the job for a while, employees know what kind of reception suggestions receive at your dealership. If they see idea after idea shot down without getting a fair hearing, they’ll keep things to themselves, or worse, start looking for a place that isn’t afraid to try new things. If, however, they know their leadership will be receptive to their creativity, that creativity starts to flow. Again, sometimes the answer will be “no,” but the idea that there could be a “yes” can keep your team members at bat and swinging for the fences.

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Susan Givens

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