Stop doing this to your employees.
I once worked for a publication who encouraged experimentation but gave little to no guidance as to what that meant exactly. It was almost as if just saying, "Go! Be creative!" was a form of direction -- but of course it wasn't really. It's a way for managers to feel like they're giving orders when really they're standing back like babysitters who have license to scold if they don't like what the kids are doing.
More often than not, at companies I've worked for who encourage you to go "be bold," they don't really know what they want. (Unless they're Guy Fieri. That guy has a real clear vision of what boldness is all about, God bless 'im.)
Fact is, workplaces aren't Montessori schools. We need to be organized and understand each other and everyone's expectations. Otherwise it's just chaos in cubicles -- the most impressive thing will be that anything gets done at all, not what gets done. Places like Google are exempt for this, where they encourage people to work together on projects together on the side not related to their main jobs. That's to bolster cross-pollination and kickstart people's brains to work in ways they usually don't, and that's to supplement what they're doing to start with.
There's a cool post on this topic, or rather how to avoid it, from SmartBlog with five easy, peezy ways to stop driving your employees nuts. I won't regurgitate all of them, but instead post, in full, their most incisive one:
Unrelenting change: Don’t get me wrong. Keeping pace with today’s dynamic marketplace demands a commitment to change. Yet many organizations have developed an affection for switching things up, redesigning structures, revising the schedule, redefining direction, etc. Sometimes it’s just change for change’s sake. The problem is that people become change-resistant. They internalize a sense of impermanence that causes them to resist or simply ignore the steady stream of changes washing over them. Unrelenting changes hurts genuine organizational transformation efforts. And it makes employees nuts.
To read the rest, and stop the insanity, hop on over here.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.