A confession from a HR managaer: I murdered creativity

I’m Anna and I used to be a Dementor. I have since healed and would like to tell you about my journey to positivity. Read and learn.

Wannado was founded five years ago by two co-founders who are each other’s exact opposites; one is blond, analytical and calm me and the other one is brunette, loud and sometimes chaotic Irina. We both have pretty wide experience, and we also know our strengths and weaknesses quite well. We knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into.

I read a blog post about Dementors who suck the life out of ideas and kill creativity in a work environment. They hide especially in the IT field and in law firms. A very good read but nothing for me personally. I’m not like that. I’m not in IT. And they are talking about big organizations not about a company of our size. However the idea stuck with me. I started to think about my own ways further. I didn’t get very far before I got to CRITICISM. It’s necessary for a great solution isn’t it, criticism? There needs to be that one person in each company who gives criticism and says no to the ideas that are too wild and not at all profitable. It’s important. I had been doing it with Irina all along.

My problem was that before giving criticism and basically killing the idea, I never remembered to point out any positives about the idea. I did remember to mention all the different reasons why the idea wouldn’t work. When you tell that to a creative person who lives for ideas and flow, that person will get disappointed, bored and eventually will end up working on something else. For us it didn’t matter that we were equal business partners – when the other one is a Dementor, ideas will die even when they come from a managing co-founder.

There lays a big risk in this; some great ideas might go unheard. Thankfully my dear business partner Irina sat me down and said “Anna, you are not always right. Don’t act like you would be.” That was the time I decided to change.

This really changed everything. Firstly, Irina was doing much better; she performed better, sold more and had ideas flowing again. Secondly, I learned how to listen better. To really listen. I thought I had listened before, but actually it was just to focus on my clever come back. That’s dangerous for great ideas.

When criticism is presented badly or there is too much of it, it will eventually kill creativity. And creativity is essential for any company. Every one of us is creative in their own way. Creativity is important for all of us as it is directly connected to our motivation, the motivation that makes us get up and going.

In Wannado’s SuperAssistant team we give criticism to each other every day; we bounce ideas back and forward and utilize different opinions. That’s the right way to do it. For this to work we can’t have any Dementors and idea-killers in the team. Every team member needs to know how valuable they are – it’s highly unlikely they’d feel that way if one’s ideas and work were put down constantly without any positive feedback in the mix.

Learn how to listen to every idea. Learn how to think ”what if”. Before you say anything, think again. Even if the idea is still bad (according to you), start the feedback with ”Thank you, that’s a good idea”. And actually mean what you say too. This way the idea can be improved.

Anna Degerholm
Co-Founder, HR Manager

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