In today’s work environment, you need more from an employee than just strong technical skills. Sure, software engineers need to be familiar with the appropriate programming language. Similarly, data analysts need to know their way around a spreadsheet. However, these things alone won’t make them more useful. They need to know of thinking outside the box to become more innovative.
Businesses that welcome ideas from all employees have better growth prospects.
‘Great Place To Work,’ an analytics institute, surveyed 500,000 employees in 800 companies. It surveyed employees on how frequently management allows their involvement in strategic decisions. Whether the management shows interest in their ideas? If they are invited to try new approaches to their work?
The survey findings concluded that where people’s ideas were valued, yielded revenue growth and productivity. Companies topping those metrics generated 5x the revenue growth of companies at the bottom. High-scoring companies ranged from smaller start-ups to large multinationals. They were in an array of industries, from finance to health care. Researchers found that many had set up a unique culture to encourage employees to brainstorm.
Fostering a culture of innovation can set you ahead of your competitors. It should not come as exceptions but should be the new normal.
As a leader, you are the role model for your whole team. By following the path of inherited work-culture, don’t expect the employees to do the contrary.
The most prolific notions require imagining out of the box. Sometimes, motivating greetings at a critical moment could also work wonders! If you are a leader, then consider these thirteen tips for deriving higher levels of innovation out of your team.
1. Chart Out Time Separately For Innovation
Successful organizations, chart-out separate research and innovation timings in their working schedules. As an example, in Google, that leisure period is called ‘20% time’. This 20% of employees’ time led to the inception of Google Earth and Gmail. The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company also reserved 15% of the employees’ working hours for innovations.
2. Encourage And Increase Dialogue
While innovation usually happens in isolation, the possibility increases multi-fold with team-cooperation. When it comes to fostering innovation, some essential patterns of communication are a boon. Leaders can build hubs where workers can hang-out and share ideas freely. With more approaches around, better become the chances of hitting the moon.
3. Friendly Collaboration
To achieve goals such as a product release contest among employees could prove helpful. However, you have to be cautious about creating an extremely aggressive work environment. Employees might be reluctant to speak up, assuming that their idea might get stolen. Instead, promote the value of teamwork. Say, during a project launch, asking employees to come with ideas on components might help.
4. Lessen The Workload
Innovation cannot evolve if employees are burdened with their everyday tasks for long hours. The most creative phase is when people are busy but not overburdened. Ensure that your business is staffed sufficiently. It is a must for employees to have positive energy and mental space to be innovative.
5. Be Available
Do you hold-up in the corner with other managers quite often? If so, then use that time to interact with your team. For the team to genuinely co-operate, they require your collaboration, counsel, and engagement. Ensure that you’re approachable and friendly. Take a step farther and give words of encouragement. Tell them that you are happy and always available to your team.
6. Maximize Diversity
The more is diversity in points-of-views, the more innovative your work experience becomes. You can introduce employees to new concepts and novel ways of thinking with job rotation. Ensure that the team interacts and coordinates with people from different backgrounds and generations. Hiring new employees, having different backgrounds, would help. Maximize diversity, and you shall be able to maximize innovation.
7. Implement Innovation Reward System
When you promote creativity, it comes under the notice of other employees. They get encouraged to do something innovative and emulate their behavior. It is essential to recognize individuals in your team that exhibit innovation readily. You can also implement a reward system to show you appreciate the innovative ideas. It shall help in making the workplace a more creative place.
8. Calm The Opposition
The reason why employees don’t provide suggestions is that they are worried about the reaction. Nobody likes his thoughts shot down instantly or becoming a butt of jokes. Create an environment that makes people confident about brainstorming actively. Even if an employee says an obvious thing, appreciate him for putting in effort. Employees should have a channel to put their suggestions in writing. It is for those who are hesitant to discuss within a group. The entire team should know that inputs in any form are welcome.
9. Get Them In Front Of Your Customers
Customer service doesn’t end with your final invoice. It would help if you let your team face clients to know about their evolving journeys. How does your product fit in their own lives? How its experience can be improved further? What other issues they have? What innovative stuff they should do to make their life easier and more flexible? Let your team interact with your customers with open questions. Let them think of ways adding value to the money of your customer. You shall soon be having a plethora of new ideas.
10. Asking The Team Their Choice Of Learning
It is one of the most effective ways to engage the team, asking them what they would like to learn. Consider this case; let us say anyone asks, “videography.” Then you should chart a videography course helping to delve deep into their current projects. It should allow them to research the competitors and bring their ideas. It should be helpful in the conception of a feedback system and learning by doing.
11. Have Respect for Failings
Failure is an indispensable part of the entire learning process. It will help if you move forward with the assumption that every idea cannot be successful. Innovation takes up numerous experiments for the creation of new solutions and products. Only those organizations would be able to taste the fruit of innovation, where there is an appetite for failures. Where employees live with a fear of failure, they won’t bring new ideas. They would instead work with traditional assessed methods.
Return and risk are two sides of a coin. For getting higher returns on investments, companies have to follow a culture of risk-taking. To decrement the chances of failing, companies might start with lesser and calculated risks. It is not just about taking risks; it is also about the numerosity of experiments. There are many examples, such as Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison, who succeeded after failings.
12. Try To Build An Environment Which Is Free From Blames
Building an environment free from blames brings creativity and innovation. Employees like to go with traditional approaches and mechanizations. It is because they feel that going to uncharted territories might lead to highly visible errors. So, the blame goes to the person who has made that decision. It becomes a necessity that your employees don’t have to face the heat. It doesn’t mean doing away with repercussions for safety violations and conscious ineptitudes.
In some organizations, publicly shaming the employees for their lapses is the norm. Such an environment can cause many hindrances in the path of innovation. Some managers think that fixing the guilty might stop other employees from committing mistakes. What happens is just the opposite. Here the employees start misreporting and hiding their mistakes. Such hidden errors amplify at a later stage because their existence was denied in the first stage.
13. Lead By The Example
It is challenging for many leaders, but if they lead by their examples, the message will go along very far. Leaders have to start by accepting their own mistakes. It would create a significant trickle-down effect on the whole team. Substantial process improvement and innovation would kickstart on its own. If managers reveal their calculated risk, employees, too, shall emulate the model. Reducing the guilt by one’s example keeps innovation alive.
Finally, take a serious note of the skill sets in your group. So, when was the last time you advanced education and training? To think innovatively, you need to empower your employees with new tools and technology. With the ideal directional approach and support, you will enable your team to enhance their ability. Also, it would make your company an innovative workplace.