There is a theory that suggests that innovation is being curtailed by disproportionately high levels of management. However this theory can be discarded so long as managers recognise how to properly control the motivation of their creative employees and ensure that their developments succeed in reaching their potential.

Creativity is consistently linked to motivation. An employee who is able to achieve their own subjective motivation as part of their job (such as job satisfaction and interesting challenges) is much more likely to develop innovative new ideas than one who isn’t. However, the standard employer-employee relationship tends to focus on objective motivations such as monetary gain and acknowledgment of their work. Below are four factors that can allow managers to avoid smothering their employees’ creative impulses.

  • An important motivating tool for managers is ensuring that their employees know what their ultimate goal is. A failure to specify these goals could mean that an employee’s objective motivation diminishes as there is no evidence that their work is ultimately beneficial. However it is important not to be too stringent in creating the means by which to achieve these ultimate goals. Such actions could damage an employees’ subjective motivation by not allowing them to sufficiently express themselves within their work. Therefore a good manager must be able to achieve a balance between these two objectives.
  • An over-analysis of an employee’s working process may result in reduced creativity. In such circumstances, many employees fear expressing their true opinions for fear of reproach. However an under-analysis of an employee’s working process can result in a feeling that their work is of no benefit and may lead to a loss in their objective motivation. Once again, a balance must be found where the managers provide useful feedback to their employees without suffocating their natural impulses. The willingness to accept setbacks in projects and recognising that such setbacks are part of the creative process allows employees to not feel unduly pressured in their working environment and able to take stock of the reasons behind such failures.
  • As stated above, one of the objective motivations of an employee is the opportunity to be appropriately rewarded for their efforts. However, it is again important to balance the financial benefits available for an employee’s work with their subjective motivation of being in control of their own creativity. The latter focuses on the personal goals that they want to achieve as part of their work along with the objective satisfaction that their work is appreciated and valued. The rewards from an employee’s point of view may not even be financial, but may just be the understanding that their ideas are listened to and acted upon.
  • As in the other examples, when it comes to putting pressure on an employee a good manager must find the right balance. Pressure relating to time, competition for promotions or raises can damage creativity but putting your faith in an employee’s unique ability to achieve their goals can create a positive form of pressure that can lead a good employee to excel.

As can be seen above, the best managers have the ability to find the right balance when it comes to managing the creativity of their employees. Creating too many rules and not allowing room to manoeuvre can strangle creativity. However, a lax attitude to managing creativity can result in an unmotivated work force unsure of the value of their work.

Guest blog by: Serge Kozak a curator and thought leader within the film innovation and technology space and a founder of

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