Rewarding of creativity
Generally rewards are supposed to motivate people to achieve a certain expected behavior. Equally, rewards in a creative organization are meant to motivate the members to become more creative. However, some studies have found out that rewards for creativity are more effective if they are intrinsic rather than extrinsic. The main challenge of rewarding creativity is determining the standard of performance.
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Employees can be motivated by the rewards to come up with creative ideas. On the contrary the ideas might not be helpful to the organization’s development. Therefore, this poses a challenge to the leaders on whether to reward the effort put on creativity or whether to only reward creative ideas that are beneficial to the organization.
On one hand, rewarding ideas that are only beneficial to the organization will discourage others from trying because their effort might not be appreciated. On the other hand, rewarding any effort invested in creativity might result in creativity without direction, which might not benefit the organization (Puccio, Murdock & Mance, 2010).
Alternatively, the leader might decide to reward certain acts of creativity according to his understanding and specification. This limits creativity because creativity involves coming up with new ideas and if some new ideas will be regarded as irrelevant, then the reward system will be discouraging to the employees instead of motivating them.
This means that creativity will be based on the judgment of one person who might not understand all aspects of the organization. As a result, the objectives of the reward system might not be achieved (Puccio, Murdock & Mance, 2010).
The above explanations serve to show the elusiveness of the concept of rewarding creativity. Various thoughts have been developed to explain the effect of reward on creativity with some suggesting that it negatively affects creativity and some suggesting otherwise.
Decremental effects of reward on creativity
Some studies have suggested that external rewards either have a negative effect on creativity or have n effect at all. Teresa Amabile argued that the expectation of a reward such as prizes and money for carrying out an activity results in a narrow definition of the activity. This means that creativity in that case will only be a means to an end instead of an opportunity for exploration.
Amabile further argued that incase incase an increase in creativity is reported after when a reward was promised, then the increase will not be as a result of the promised reward but will result from instructions to perform creatively.
Amabile used the study by Loveland and Olley (1979) to support her argument. The study found that the promise of a tangible reward for completing a drawing task negatively affected creativity, as it reduced the divergent forms incorporate in t the drawing.
Amabile (1983) maintained that when people expect a reward for carrying out an activity, they will oriented toward goal-relevant stimuli. As a result, their attention to the task will be reduced and they will instead focus on how to align themselves to the instructions of the reward rather than creativity.
The narrowed attention reduces flexibility and spontaneity, which necessary for creative performance. Therefore, the individuals will end up not exploiting their creative ability to the maximum because they are striving to get the reward.
Amabile(1996) reported that rewards erode creativity because it reduces intrinsic motivation, which is a person’s interest in a task or activity. When an individual is intrinsically motivated he or she will be absorbed in the job and hence, will derive enjoyment from the challenges of the task.
On the other hand, individuals with low intrinsic motivation will find an activity to be boring. Considering the fact that creativity is a mentally taxing activity, intrinsic motivation will be important for the creative process to be a success. Therefore, when there is no motivation from within then less creativity will be realized.
Incremental Effects of reward on creativity
Eisenberger, Armeli, and Pretz (1998) found out that promised reward could influence individuals to increase their creativity in performing a task. This they found out while examining the effect task instructions on creativity and the relationship between performance and reward.
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The trio found out tat children produced more highly creative drawings when they were promised monetary reward for novel performance than when no money was promised or when money was promised but for unspecified drawing performance.
They therefore, concluded that reward was a positive motivator to creativity. However, they further clarified that whether an individual will focus on producing conventional performance or creative performance will depend on the type of performance that is being rewarded.
Eisenberger and Armeli (1997) found out that requiring creative performance in one task with a promise of reward produced greater subsequent creative performance in a completely different non-rewarded task. In addition, participants were likely to increase their creative performance in subsequent non-rewarded tasks if the initial task had a higher pay for novel performance.
This shows that if the relationship between creative performance and reward is made clear then the magnitude of reward will determine the level of creativity. The same way the magnitude of reward affects creativity positively when it’s a motivator is the same way it will way it will affect creativity when it’s a hindrance. Therefore, the lesser the amount of reward the lesser the level of creative performance it will produce.
The two further argued that rewards are not in themselves bad to promoting creativity. However, two factors must be considered when using rewards, the types of behaviors being promoted and how the rewards are distributed. For example, rewards can be used to pass some information to workers and hence the informational component of the rewards is what is linked to the intrinsic motivation and eventually creativity.
Therefore, the employees should see the rewards as recognition of their competence, creative efforts and their actual creative accomplishments. As a result, rewards distributed in such informational ways will have a positive effect on employees’ creative performance.
Eisenberger et al. (1998) reported that the when a reward is promise for performance of a given unspecified task, participants will either produce conventional performance or creative performance depending on the type of performance that was previously rewarded. If the previous task divergent thinking were specifically rewarded, then the promise of a reward in the current unspecified task will result in creative performance.
Eisenberger and his colleagues came to this conclusion when they found out that children, who had previously received pay for creative drawing, produced drawings that are more creative when they were promised a reward for unspecified drawing. While those who had received a reward for conventional drawings produced less creative drawings but with high conventional performance.
The Interaction between Extrinsic Rewards and Creativity Training
Few researches have been carried out to examine the effect of training on creativity. However, the most of the studies on the topic show that training can positively influence positive outcomes. Dahl, Chattopadhyay and Gorn 1999 did one of these studies, which sought to examine the relationship between creative training and product outcomes.
The study did not include the influences extrinsic rewards or intrinsic motivation on motivation process. The study only identified two major training approaches, which are creative idea training and creative imagery training. As a result, the authors were unable to find out whether training affects intrinsic motivation or extrinsic rewards of creativity.
The belief that external rewards reduced creativity was faulted by the fact that even in creative field people work for compensation. Hence, the theory that rewards always undermined creativity was found to be untrue in certain instances. Hennessey and Amabile (1989) suggested that people might be shielded from de-motivating effects of rewards depending on their ability to interpret the role of the rewards offered.
They explained that a reward could be seen as either constraining, which refers to an attempt to exert external control or it can be seen as a informational, which refers to providing useful information. If interpreted as informational, then the reward could to increase in intrinsic motivation and positive creative outcome.
Job characteristics and reward creativity
Job characteristics can also be a key determinant of creativity in an organization. Jobs that are more difficult and complex tend to influence employees to come up with creative alternative ways of delivering the output. On the other hand, simple and routine jobs may not be done creatively because employees find it easy to reach the end result. Therefore, they are not motivated to find alternative ways of doing things.
As a result, complex job tend to provide an intrinsic motivation on an individual. When the individual succeeds in accomplishing a given task by developing new creative ways of solving a problem, he or she will feel satisfied. Hence, even if there is no a tangible reward the individual can still be motivated trough recognition or praise (Shalley, 1995).
On the other hand, routine jobs have do not require a lot of creativity. Employees in such jobs are never challenged to come up with better ways of doping their tasks. As a result, their jobs are most associated with external rewards. The rewards are mostly based on conventional performance, which means the one who follows the procedures strictly is rewarded.
This means that leaders can design their jobs to be complex so that employees feel challenged to design new ways of getting creative outcomes. However, some employees prefer routine jobs and hence assigning employees to complex tasks might lead to negative results. In addition, not all jobs can be done afresh which means that some jobs will always remain routinized (Shalley, 1995).
Goal setting, expectations and rewarding creativity
Goal setting can be an important way of influencing creativity within an organization. Goals increase the employees’ attention and help them to focus on achieving a particular target. Clearly set goals often motivate employees to put more effort because they can identify the required outcome.
In addition, rewards are designed to target those who accomplish the set goals. As a result, the employees will work hard and will be able to monitor their progress by determining the already accomplished work and the remaining part. However, goal setting and predetermined rewards can also be a hindrance to creativity because the employees will feel restricted to a particular outcome.
Therefore, they will not be as flexible as when there were no specific goals. Hence, when setting goals, the leaders should ensure that the employees are allowed to use different approaches to achieve the required outcome. In addition, the process of carrying out the task must not be an iterated process. Furthermore, the employees should be allowed to come up with new ideas that can be developed at a future date (Shalley, 1995).
Supervisory support and rewarding creativity
Studies have shown that employees who receive the required supervisory support tend to be more creative than those that do not. This includes having leaders listening to the employees concerns and being available to respond to their queries. This requires that the supervisors be less controlling and supportive.
In addition, the supervisors should be able to identify the employees’ aspirations to be able to guide them appropriately into their area of creativity. Rewards also forms part of supervisory support, whereby the supervisor can motivate the employee through using rewards when. However, the some scholars have argued that a close presence of supervisors can be a hindrance to creativity.
Furthermore, most leaders will dictate how things are to be done and this limits the freedom. Therefore, the employee is unable to try new ways and to explore various possibilities because such moves are contrary to the supervisors understanding. Although feedback is important in such a relationship, negative feedback tends to discourage creativity.
Therefore, the leader needs to be skilled in mentoring to be able to present helpful advice to the employee. However, sometimes negative feedback is inevitable and hence, the employee feels restricted to perform according to the supervisor’s instructions.
Failure to do this the employee might be subjected top sanctions or the leader might withdraw his or her support. Hence, controlling leaders also affect creativity negatively because the employees feel there is no enough space to try out new ideas (Shalley & Gilson, 2004).
Sufficient Resources and Rewarding creativity
To be creative one must be ready to spend a great amount of time and mental energy as well as work hard. Gruber & Davis (1988) explains that an organization must have sufficient resources for it to be able to challenge its members to be creative. Time is one of these important resources that the leadership need to ensure that their employees have in plenty.
Amabile et al. (2003) also reported that employees who are under time pressure are less likely to engage in creative activities. They will always seek to met deadlines and hence, they will stick routine practices. Time is necessary to explore different ideas and in evaluating various alternatives without being quick to make judgments.
Apart from time, material resources are also important in promoting creativity in an organization. Employers must make available any needed material resource so that the employees, because lack of the required resources tend to be a de-motivate employees. When employees do not find the materials they need to carryout their research and trial processes, they are likely to be discouraged.
As a result, hey will g back to their conventional practices instead of facing hardships while trying to come up with new ways (Katz & Allen, 1988).
Lastly, human resources are also another important requirement of creativity, because people in the organization must be able to access experts who can provide tem with information necessary for promoting creative activities. To be creative in an organization, individuals must be free to share information with others (Mumford et al., 2002).
However, some scholars have challenged the idea of having enough resources in order to0 promote creativity in an organization (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997). They argue that the abundance of resources might affect creativity negatively.
By not having everything that is needed at hand might force employees to stretch in to creative ways of accomplishing a given task without the missing resource. They further argue that having all resources might make employees to become too comfortable to think, which a wrong trend in promoting creativity is.
Having more time also might lead boredom and hence, the employee will not be motivated to carry out their tasks. Hence the manager must know how to balance these resources t achieve maximum creativity (Mumford et al., 2002).
Organizational culture and climate
For creativity to flourish in an organization, the leadership needs to ensure that the working environment promotes creativity. One key characteristic of such leadership style is being able to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity. This means that the level to which an organization tolerates uncertainty and encourages its members to come up with new ways of doing things will determine their level of creativity.
If the employees have no fear of being punished by doing things differently, they will put more effort in coming up with new ideas. Therefore, the leadership should focus on promoting an environment whereby risk taking is encouraged. Rewarding creative behavior is also an organizational culture that promotes creativity.
The leadership should ensure hat the reward system recognizes the desire behaviors rather than past cultures, which do not lead to the required outcomes Amabile et al. (2003).
However, risk-taking environment has a disadvantage because the employees can involve themselves in activities that can greatly cost the organization. As the employees try new approaches, they may end up committing the organization to activities that leads it to many losses (Cummings, 1965).
In addition, it is difficult top define boundaries within which the employees the employees can operate. By doing so, some creative ideas might be locked out, because the employees will not be allowed to carry out their activities beyond the set boundaries.
Leadership in creative organizations is a very challenging task as shown by the different views reported from various studies. Although several benefits have been identified that focus on enhancing creativity in organizations, some factors that hinder the development of creative ability have also been identified.
Some of the challenges that fault the practicality of leadership in creating creative organizations include the following. Determining the decremental and incremental effect of external rewards in organizations.
Establishing the sufficient amount of resources that can promote a creative environment without acting as a hindrance. Developing an organizational culture that sustains the creative effort, while ensuring that organizational goals are met. Lastly, ensuring that the supervisory support provided is just enough to allow creativity to flourish.
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