Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Business

Hey, bosses: Want to foster creativity?

RECOMMENDED READING


Another meeting to attend? If you were planning to offer some new ideas for how to do something at your firm, forget it. The boss has other ideas. He or she may say they are looking forward to meeting with your committee, hearing the group's input and blessing its continued progress. But, what really happens is something else.

It might go something like this: Your committee, which was charged to investigate a new product or direction for the firm, has completed its preliminary research. As the leader of the group, you feel good about what you have accomplished so you are holding a mid-term progress review to update the boss.

You put together a detailed Power Point presentation to highlight the committee's progress and direction. You expect (hope) the boss will recognize the group's incredibly hard work (it wasn't easy to get everyone on the team to buy in and finally all be going in the same direction), listen respectfully and attentively while you explain what you have done, and then offer some input or suggestions at the end of your presentation. You know your boss is pretty innovative, so maybe he or she will offer some alternative ideas or creative suggestions.

But, what happens instead? As soon as you get to the second slide, the boss immediately interrupts to explain why your idea will not work or what you should have done instead, letting you know that he or she doesn't understand the idea and definitely doesn't think it can work. This continues on each and every slide, and after about 20 minutes of the constant interruptions and "killer phrases" from the boss, you feel deflated, frustrated and ready to bail on the project. Looking around at your committee members you can see they feel the same way you do — their enthusiasm for the committee's work is rapidly fading.

Why does this happen in so many meetings today? If you ask bosses, they will be more likely to say that the committee did not fully do their work, instead of admitting their own part in killing the creativity and success of the meeting. But it doesn't have to be this way.

Managers can encourage creativity in meetings. Here's how:

Determine the purpose of the meeting and state it. Maybe the purpose is to review progress to date and just share ideas (without evaluation of those ideas at this point). The purpose should guide the structure and type of meeting that is conducted. Have an assigned facilitator, especially if they can keep the boss in check.

Adopt norms for how the meeting should be run. For example, saying you will throw out all ideas without evaluating them might be one norm. Allowing everyone to offer ideas might be another norm.

Listen respectfully and attentively to others in the meeting, especially to those who are presenting or offering their explanations for various ideas. According to research by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), many leaders take for granted their ability to listen to others and are often surprised when someone tells them they don't listen well and are impatient, judgmental, arrogant or unaware. Studies that show that leaders do 80 percent of the talking in their interactions with others, despite that they think they do a lot of listening.

The CCL offers a great practical guide called "Active listening: Improve your ability to listen and lead" that offers tips for leaders to enhance their listening skills. These include:

Pay attention. Get comfortable being silent; use the meeting as an opportunity to learn from the other party.

Hold judgment. Suspend judgment, hold your criticism, avoid arguing or selling your point of view right away; be patient.

Reflect. Use paraphrasing to confirm your understanding.

Clarify. Use open-ended, clarifying and probing questions to better understand the other person's views.

Summarize. Briefly restate the core themes raised by the other person.

Share. Once you better understand the other person and have listened to them, share your ideas and suggestions.

Joyce E.A. Russell is the vice dean and director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist and has more than 25 years of experience coaching executives and consulting on leadership and career management.

Comments
A new threat this shopping season: toys that can spy on kids

A new threat this shopping season: toys that can spy on kids

ST. PETERSBURG — Not all sinister toys are as obvious as a Chucky doll. Many present more subtle threats — choking hazards, high lead content, privacy concerns. And as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks off, consumer advocates are urging s...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

It has been years since Detroit, birthplace of the American auto industry, was a steady producer of the manufacturing jobs that defined it as the Motor City. But its comeback is entering a new phase.The latest milestone came this week, with the annou...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

Associated PressWASHINGTON — Decades after they were banned from the airwaves, Big Tobacco companies return to prime-time television this weekend — but not by choice. Under court order, the industry for the first time will be forced to advertise the ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Ybor ’s first public school, long gone, still has a story to tell about district’s history

Ybor ’s first public school, long gone, still has a story to tell about district’s history

TAMPAIt’s been more than a century since Ybor City’s first public school was demolished on the plot of land now identified as 1311 E Eighth Ave.For the past 22 years, the popular concert venue New World Brewery took up the space and one next door. No...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

ST. PETERSBURG — World and national tragedies are changing the city’s approach to security for special events at North Straub Park.With the approach of the holidays, concrete barricades have been erected at a section of the park’s perimeter, where Fo...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Copa Airlines to fly daily nonstop from Tampa to Panama next summer

Copa Airlines to fly daily nonstop from Tampa to Panama next summer

TAMPA — Panama’s Copa Airlines, which four years ago became the first airline to offer service between Panama and Tampa Bay, said it is increasing its nonstop service between Tampa International Airport and Panama City to daily flights starting in Ju...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Despite Hurricane Irma, Florida hit another record high number in tourists visiting the state in the first nine months of this year, according to figures released this week.Visit Florida, the state’s tourism bureau, said 88.2 million visitors came to...
Updated: 12 hours ago
FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown ...
Published: 11/21/17
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Published: 11/21/17
Hurricane Irma hurt some Tampa Bay home sales even in October

Hurricane Irma hurt some Tampa Bay home sales even in October

Pinellas County home sales took another hurricane-related hit in October as the rest of the Tampa Bay area bounced back from Hurricane Irma.But while prices in all four counties rose once again, the rate of increase continues to slow. Hillsborough’s...
Updated: 11 hours ago