I believe that anyone in an organization can be creative. In fact, I think employers should give more time off to workers who pursue Informal Arts. But more on that later.
From accountants to copywrtiers, the creative potential is there. But it’s usually drowned by drudgery. Even creatives who work in-house are subject to “Let’s all work harder and pull longer hours!”
Except that the effect is really the opposite – the more hours you throw at something, the sloppier your work gets. You lose creative juices which should really be conserved like a precious resource.
My brain pulses in anger at the thought of being told to “work harder!” Well, gee, what does that mean exactly?
Write for longer hours?
Come up with 50 brilliant ideas an hour?
Add more strategies to my work plan?
“Work harder” means nothing in an office environment. Our keyboards aren’t shovels. If I type faster that doesn’t mean my work gets done quicker. It just means I’m typing crappy copy faster.
When I was growing up, my mom would constantly ask “Why do you make it so hard on yourself?”
Little did I know then that she was priming me to be an productivity monster. In essence, my Filipino mom didn’t tell me to “work harder,” she told me to “work smarter.”
And that’s what I do. I look for the easy route without sacrificing the quality. I’m a fast writer. I know how to get my head in the right place to write so I can be creative and effective.
I’m not a machine though.
You can’t pump more mojo into my fuel tank every hour and expect to get brilliant ideas. That’s not how creativity works.
I’m willing to bet that 90% of the time these conversations happen because Los Jefes didn’t plan ahead and ignored staff’s warnings on priorities. Maybe 10% of the time it’s because of a real communications crisis or last minute project.
All of this to say – stop draining your employees. Stop throwing more hours or money at a problem. It won’t go away or change. Instead ask yourself – how can we work smarter? How can we be the most productive and still preserve our employees’ creativity?
I’ll continue to weigh in on this issue and research organizations and businesses who are great at this..