Business

Creating positive buzz in the office

Nothing puts more of a dampener on creative discussions than a "yes, but".

Especially, if the person saying it is a manager. Employees take their cue from their superiors.

So if the boss says something cannot, or should not, be done, employees may not want to rock the boat by insisting otherwise.

Typically, "yes, buts" signal a mindset that clings on to old ways of doing things.

It's an infectious malady that can grind innovation to a halt, something companies cannot afford in today's hyper-competitive marketplace.

This, being the start of a new year, is a good time to correct the naysaying at meetings and, in fact, across your organisation.

GIVE THE BIG PICTURE

Drivers don't simply look at the white lines when they are on the road. They look farther into the distance, all the while keeping the destination in mind.

Similarly, in every project discussion, start by explaining to all present why they are there. This simple practice will get people on the same page, with a common understanding of the desired outcome.

Once everyone understands the "whys" in any project, their minds can be free of any pre-existing constraints. It allows them to also see their own role and part they play in the greater scheme of things.

SET THE GROUND RULES

Do this at all meetings. A key component of great teams across the globe is a shared set of principles by which all agree and abide.

Some useful ground rules include "wild ideas accepted" and "build on one another's ideas". Begin each session by recapping the ground rules.

This sets the stage for everyone in the room to at least have the right frame of mind or overcome their fear of failure in contributing ideas and opinions.

USE A SERVICE BELL

The bell can be placed at the centre of the table. When to use it? When someone uses some form of "yes, but".

Anyone can ring the bell. This will serve as a gentle reminder to focus on building on each other's ideas versus throwing cold water on them. Also, when people go off tangent, ring the bell to get the discussion back on track.

Creativity is more important than ever in today's super-charged marketplace. Canning an idea before even exploring its merits is ill-advised.

Products and services have a shorter and shorter life cycle. What worked yesterday may not cut it today.

Some of the coolest innovations that have become everyday things - from smartphones to the Internet - were once thought of as someone's impractical or wild idea.

However, their creators banished the "yes, buts" and forged their ideas into reality.

This article was contributed by Right Management (www.rightmanagement.sg), the global career experts within United States-listed HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.