Accountants tend to think in black and white. Maybe it is the world of numbers and rules we live in all day. But when it comes to firm growth, efficiency, strategy, and sustainability, being creative as well as innovative is crucial to survival. Here are three ways you can help foster creativity in your team to drive innovation and growth:
1. Encourage collaboration
This can be done in a variety of different ways. Having an open-door policy and promoting teamwork are two easy steps you can take to encourage collaboration. Innovation is often born of sharing ideas, or even of sharing problems. Teams facing a problem collectively instead of as individuals will be more likely to share their ideas to find a solution.
You can also consider incentives for top performing teams, or teams who are able to find new ways to be efficient and share with the firm. In any case, the open door signals your willingness to listen which fosters an environment of support for creativity.
2. Don’t buck failure
In an industry where most of our work is simply “right” or “wrong”, encourage your team to fail forward. Making mistakes is critical to learning. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about letting them make tax return mistakes, but you do need to let your team be the next presenter to the client, go off on their own at that networking meeting, try drafting their own proposals and test out their new theories on efficient practices (see above).
A whole staff afraid to ever get anything wrong will never stray outside the lines of exactly what you tell them to do. So what does that mean when you’re not there? Empower them to make well informed decisions and teach them how to bounce back professionally and gracefully after they’ve made a mistake.
3. Prioritize learning
Learning is critical to innovation and creativity. Promoting continuous learning will help not just develop your team’s skills, but it will also help generate new ideas. Make sure your team knows where to access learning opportunities, whether it be through an online database, continuous programs offered in the office, or a program to reimburse them for attending local events and training.
Demonstrating that continuous learning is valued and prioritized will not only lead to a more creative team, but it also enhances employee retention.
Creative teams have been shown not just to increase productivity, but they are also more adaptable. These two traits are critical to long term, sustained growth.
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