Managers must not stifle employee creativity

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

Many in the tech community are interested in news about Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella. He certainly has his work cut out for him. The computer industry environment is one of constant change, with the emphasis currently shifting from PCs and PC hosted software to mobile devices, apps and cloud-based programs.

Nadella has spoken about the importance of fostering innovation at Microsoft to stay competitive. This is a worthy goal, but as any project manager knows, there are many ways that companies can inadvertently stifle innovation. Unfortunately for Nadella, Microsoft's corporate culture has institutionalized many creativity-killing procedures, which will take time to undo.

In a recent article for, psychologists Teresa Amabile and Beth Hennessey list some of the ways that managers can thwart innovation on their teams.

Sometimes, it as simple as monitoring employees too much. Though managers should know what is going on in their organizations, too much oversight "means I don't have to be responsible—because the boss is."

The article also references Microsoft's "notorious forced ranking system" and "departmental competition—for talent, for resources, for attention." Trust and collaboration are needed if teams are to function freely and creatively, and deliver their best work on a project.

Many companies have experimented with open structures that give their teams as much autonomy as possible. New Leaf Project Management's 2-day program, "Leading a Project Team," will show you how to avoid Microsoft's management mistakes.

In addition, our white papers and our QPM project management game let you learn while you earn PDUs for PMP recertification.

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