A Few Simple Words Can Kill Creativity In Your Team

Have you ever seen a brainstorming session go south in an instant just because one person made an off hand comment? Someone saying “You’re right, but…” can stop a discussion in a few seconds flat. Raise your hand if it’s never happened to you. I thought so. See I’ve even been guilty of making creativity killing comments on occasion. You probably have too. We don’t do it intentionally; sometimes comments just slip out and they can have unintended consequences.

As team leaders it’s important to encourage your team to ensure you get maximum performance. That means using caution when commenting on ideas they generate (and don’t forget about what you do!).

Several years ago I happened upon a great list of phrases that we should all stay away from if we want our teams to grow and prosper. The list, by Dave Dufour, includes fifty phrases that are just the tip of the iceberg for comments you may hear when you are trying to change your organization. Here are a few of my favorites — meaning the ones I hear most often. :)

We tried that before… We don’t have the time…. Not enough help… It’s against company policy… We don’t have the authority… That’s not our problem… I’m not saying you’re wrong but… It isn’t in the budget… Let’s put that one on the back burner for now… We’ve always done it this way…

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard — or used — one of those phrases. It would be a good idea to get the entire list, put it on a wall poster and communicate to everyone that these phrases are not allowed in your company.

And here’s a video you can show to your team on the same topic. When I happened upon this video called My Anti-Creativity Checklist from Youngme Moon, I thought it would be a good thought provoker for you. It’s powerful stuff.

Denise O'Berry

Denise O’Berry — aka the Team Doc — has been working with teams and team leadership in the public, non profit and private sectors for over twenty years. She gets a lot of joy from working with teams and their leadership to help them improve and work through team issues. Not only does her advice come from the heart, it comes from years of experience working as a team member, team leader, manager and owner of her own company. She has truly walked in your shoes and offers help so you can be a better team leader. You can find more advice from Denise at her website askteamdoc and don't forget to follow her on Twitter @askteamdoc.

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