Creativity in the Workplace: 10 Attributes of Innovative Employees

By Indeed Editorial Team

September 12, 2021

How can you use creativity in the workplace to the advantage of you and your business? You can put the creativity of yourself or others into action to find new solutions to old problems, foster teamwork and come up with more efficient processes for your company’s workflows. In this article, we examine how creative people think, the different characteristics of creative talent and the vital role of creativity in the workplace.

The 5 stages of the creative process

Creativity is the act of transforming new, innovative ideas into reality. Language, art, scientific theories and advances in technology are all results of creative thought. Creative people are always asking questions and finding new ways to look at things. They are more likely to experiment with different ideas in the workplace, which can lead to new processes that benefit everyone.

Artist blowing glass

People with creative minds usually follow this five-step process when coming up with a solution to a problem or producing something from their imagination:

1. Prepare and perform research

The first step of the creative process is to gather materials and engage in specific study on the task or problem at hand. The process also involves more general research on the topic and gathering necessary items, like tools or supplies, and collecting it in the space where they are comfortable innovating.

2. Meditate on the problem

Instead of trying to immediately force a clear solution to the problem, creative thinkers dive deeply into the issue and play with different ideas. Meditating on each idea and letting them bounce off each other could eventually lead to the solution or product they are searching for.

3. Disconnect from the problem

Innovators tend to take a prolonged break from tinkering or thinking. It’s as though all the preparation and meditation has been combined and left to simmer on the back burner until the idea bubbles to the surface.

4. Let the idea emerge

After fully removing themselves from a problem for a period of time, creative people will often have renewed insight. Words or images will combine correctly, a pattern will stand out or a solution seems to present itself.

5. Develop the idea and put it into practice

Finally, creators will be able to build upon their idea and begin applying it to their work. During this step, they might consider sharing their idea with others to get feedback to help refine it further before putting it into practice.

Related: Character Traits: Definition and Examples

10 top qualities of creative people in the workplace

Here are 10 attributes that creative people often possess:

1. Mix of introversion and extroversion

Most people tend to be either introverts or extroverts—either strongly preferring the company of others or time alone—but creative people have a tendency to display both of these personality traits. They become energized by social situations, drawing inspiration from others, but also need time alone to recharge and process that inspiration.

Related: Guide: 16 Personality Types

2. Willing to take risks

Many creative thinkers have learned to embrace challenges at work and aren’t intimidated by the prospect of failure. By taking risks and trying new ways of doing things that increase creativity in the workplace, innovators are able to test whether their ideas work. This process also allows them to refine their ideas to the point that they can easily be used on a daily basis at work.

3. High levels of concentration

Creative people tend to lose track of time when engaged in the creative process. Their focus becomes so concentrated on the task at hand that they can work for hours at a time without realizing it.

4. Innovative problem-solving

Creative thinkers may find it easier to apply their imagination to everyday scenarios. This can help them come up with unique solutions to the challenges they may face at work. Creative minds play with information instead of just storing it. Instead of simply accepting ideas, they question them, build on them and apply them to their lives.

5. Challenge conformity

Creative people have a strong understanding of the usual processes and norms that govern their workplaces, therefore they can easily recognize when established practices could benefit from improvement. Their ability not to conform without thought can provide fresh perspective about what is usually accepted as a normal procedure or behavior in the workplace, allowing room for new processes to arise.

Related: Core Values: Overview and Examples

6. Independence

While creative people may find inspiration from collaborating with a team, they often thrive with minimal supervision. They tend to be independent, embracing the skills that may make them different from their coworkers but that add to creativity in the workplace.

7. Comfort with ambiguity

Creative people are good at accepting ambiguous situations in which more than one thing is true or where the truth is uncertain. When they approach situations in the office with this type of mindset, it can make it easier to look for more than one solution to a problem. Being comfortable with ambiguity can allow room for more experimentation, which can lead to innovative solutions for challenges at work.

8. Thoroughness and attention to detail

Creative minds tend to value preparation and are adept at thinking about possible solutions to problems from multiple angles. They think of the possible issues they might need to improve before they put their ideas into practice.

Related: What Is Strategic Planning? Definition, Techniques and Examples

9. Openness to criticism

Creative people are emotionally invested in their work, but they should remain objective when reviewing everyone’s work, including their own. This means that they are often open to constructive criticism and assess their own work fairly. They use feedback to improve their ideas and continue to learn.

10. Strong work ethic

A substantial amount of effort goes into being creative and fostering creativity in the workplace. Which means that innovative thinkers and creators take their work seriously and remain realistic about the amount of time and effort it will take to complete a project. This is a characteristic that greatly improves over time and helps to develop a solid approach and ethic toward work.

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