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8th July 2013

Teams need Time to be Creative

Shelly Rubinstein was interviewed in May 2013 for an article due to be published in HSBC’s Trade Radar magazine. The interview was based on how to help a new team gel quickly and foster creativity. Whilst there might be some urgency to get the team down to work in order to produce results, the team need time and space to get to know each other, find out their commonalities and differences, their skills, appreciate each other’s preferred styles and how each team member can play to their strengths and work in ways that they are most effective.

Research has shown that people need time to build trust within the team and develop shared responsibility when working towards a common goal. Teams need to identify the values, the way that they will work together and each members understanding of the goals from the start. Everyone will then have the same expectations and can formulate team and individual objectives. Once this has been established, the team can work towards their goals but again, it is essential to have protected time available for the team to engage in creative processes as people are less likely to display such behaviour under time pressure.

Individuals should feel comfortable to formulate and play around with ideas in a non-threatening, safe culture that accepts and galvanises such opportunities – rather than one where there is punishment or blame for ideas contrary to the status quo. In fact, having a culture so accepting and encouraging where people are comfortable to express their ideas and open to having them challenged, inspires ‘constructive controversy’, (discussions to stimulate creative problem solving) which can facilitate better quality decisions.

It is also important to recognise that teams are stronger when they are diverse in terms of the skills, experiences and perspectives that people can contribute. This has consistently been noted in the teamwork and creativity literature as vital for creative team performance which is a key point to consider when formulating teams but primarily in the recruitment process.

“Some people see psychology as a bit pink and fluffy; in fact, it’s scientific, research-based and essential when forging a high performing team” – Shelly.