KSAOs/Individual Differences

Promoting Creative Performance on the Job

Employee creativity is a critical component of an organization’s ability to be innovative. This creativity, also known as creative performance, refers to an employee’s ability to generate novel and practical ideas or solutions. One effective way that supervisors can increase creative performance is by enhancing their employees’ belief in their own ability to be creative. This belief in one’s own ability to generate creative ideas or solutions is called creative self-efficacy.

Factors Influencing Creative Self-Efficacy

Listed below are two broad factors that play a role in increasing creative self-efficacy in employees.
  • Perceived Creativity Expectations. This refers to the degree to which an employee perceives expectations for creative performance from their supervisor. If employees believe that their supervisors have high creative expectations of them, then they are more likely to have high creative self-efficacy. This relationship exists because when employees know that their supervisors believe in their creative abilities, employees strive to meet those creative expectations and, in turn, gain more confidence in their creative abilities over time.
  • Formal Job Creativity Requirements. This refers to the degree to which a job requires the employee to create novel solutions to problems that they encounter on the job. Unlike perceived creativity expectations, when a job’s formal creativity requirements are increased, employees experience a decrease in creative self-efficacy. This relationship may exist because greater formal job demands, in general, tend to lessen an employee’s feelings of self-efficacy as well as his overall job performance.

Why is it Important to Promote Creative Self-Efficacy?

It is important to promote creative self-efficacy in employees because increases in creative self-efficacy are related to increases in creative performance. Hence, supervisors should strive to increase creative self-efficacy in their employees by using the factors described above because creative self-efficacy gives employees the confidence they need to be creative problem-solvers.

Practical Implications

To some degree, organizations can shape creative self-efficacy and creative performance in their employees. Jobs vary greatly in how much creativity they require. For jobs that require a great deal of creativity, supervisors should be provided with leadership training on how to increase creative self-efficacy in their employees. Supervisors should be mindful when adding more creativity requirements into their employees’ jobs because these additional formal demands can decrease employees’ confidence in their ability to be creative problem-solvers. When additional creativity requirements must be added, supervisors should also provide employees with additional training in creativity skill development in order to meet these new job requirements.

Mackenzi Harmon


This was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Tierney, P., & Farmer, S.M. (2011). Creative self-efficacy development and creative performance over time. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(2), 277-293.