Barriers to Creativity in the Workplace

Creative ideas light up the business world.
i Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Anyone can create the same widget that competitors are making, but it takes forward-thinking, creative people to make a better widget. Companies also need creative people to market the bigger and better widget, to design the packaging and to find cost saving methods of producing the widget without sacrificing quality. Unfortunately, not every workplace environment is conducive to innovative thinking. These barriers to creativity hold back employees from providing the best service possible.


    No one will argue that creative people are needed for product design, marketing or advertising, but bring up creativity and project management, finance or administration and you make people nervous. The reason is simple: People fail to think of creative solutions to everyday problems as an important means of fitting more productivity into the average workday. While creating new products and services is vital for company growth, finding new ways to save money in the back office allows sales to price the products below that of the competition.


    When management believes in the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," you may find it hard to introduce innovative solutions to old problems. When the company demands strict adherence to existing policies and procedures, it often fails to leave room for changes. You may take a new idea to your supervisor, but your supervisor may be afraid to implement the change or even to know how to go about getting approval to make the change.


    In the business world, time really does equate to money. With streamlined staffing, you may already be doing twice the work the person who previously held your job did. Finding time to research and flesh out new ideas may be in short supply. Add the time crunch to the stress of possibly more layoffs, competition for fewer promotion opportunities or the challenge of out-of-date technology and you may feel like your creative side is buried under a ton of bricks.


    Whether you succeed or fail is a direct reflection on your supervisor who is responsible for making sure you get your work done as well as her own. Some managers take this responsibility very seriously and feel the only way to effectively do the job is to micromanage every step of the process. This type of manager believes there is only one way to do the job right -- her way. When you report to this type of supervisor, you may quickly learn that any creative changes will be met with a negative response.

the nest