To stimulate an innovative culture we think of all sorts of intervention and actions, like the establishment of an Innovation Board, creativity training, innovation itineraries, etc. What often remains undiscussed are the managers themselves. Managers do, in fact, fulfill a very crucial role: they can make or break creative ideas. Because they are the ones deciding whether or not to take something seriously and invest the necessary resources. This is what intrigued Roy Sijbom, and at the University of Groningen he graduated on this very subject.
Why are some managers open to creative ideas from employees, and willing to support them, when others are not? It turns out that the quality of an idea isn’t the only deciding factor in the management’s response. Sijbom discovered that your response is influenced by your own performance targets. Performance targets are the goals people strive for. They influence your motivation and response to all sorts of things.
Do you have a performance or mastery goal?
Simply put, there are two kinds of performance targets: performance and mastery. People with performance targets focus on the demonstration of their competence and superceding others. People with mastery targets are focused on receiving knowledge and skills to improve their competency and performance.
Openness to novel ideas
Among other things, Sijbom researched whether performance targets influenced one’s openness to a novel idea. And this is in fact the case. Supervisors with performance targets are relatively less receptive to the creative ideas of their employees. How come? One of the reasons is the threat to their position. What if the idea fails, would I still be taken seriously? Another issue, ideas often develop from something which could be improved upon. The supervisor with performance targets may experience such a thing as negative feedback. Thinking, have I done something wrong? This distracts their attention from the idea itself.
Leaders with mastery targets focus on learning and view creative ideas as possibilities for development. They are more open to the exploration of the ideas and are quick to divert time and resources towards their elaboration.
Awareness and responding to obstacles
If you want your entire organisation to contribute to improvement and development, it is thus important to have insight into the type of manager. Are there leaders with performance targets? Propagate the awareness of their instinctive reaction and respond to obstacles such as face threats and sense of failure. That’s how you prevent groundbreaking ideas from being smothered and make sure that they receive the attention they deserve.
Curious how you can stimulate your own creativity? Read our blog on creative challenging.