Creativity is the lifeblood of successful businesses. Innovation and risk taking allow for companies to stay competitive in a fast-moving market. Given that your employees are your number one resource for creative ideas and innovation, are you doing all that you can to make sure you encourage and support employees willing to try new ideas?
Today’s article will discuss what you can do to drive innovation in your workplace, inspire your staff to think about how they can improve on processes, and maintain an overall culture of progress and growth.
Encourage Risk Taking
Many employers are hesitant when it comes to allowing their employees to take risks. Often times, particularly in more traditional or systemic lines of work, there is a set process for getting the job done, and any deviations from that process are looked down upon as either a waste of time or an unnecessary risk. The fact of the matter is that risk taking is required in order to improve on existing processes.
Consider how technology has vastly improved communication in the workplace. Businesses who were not willing to take the chance on new technologies such as email or word processing were simply left in the dust. Encourage your employees to take smart risks, to evaluate where there are improvements to be made in day to day processes, and make suggestions as to how they think advances can be made. Not every risk will be met with success, but fear of the unknown or the unfamiliar will stifle creativity and engagement in your workforce.
Equally important to encouraging risk taking is the act of rewarding of successful innovations. If employees feel that their suggestions are ignored, or worse taken without credit, the motivation to think innovatively will be removed very quickly. Reward your employees for trying new ideas. Ask for their feedback about why they think something did or did not succeed. Give credit where credit is due. Engage them in the larger scale planning and goal setting of the company they are so fully invested in. Such actions will encourage your team to think outside the box and suggest solutions to problems that you might not even be aware of.
Rewards can be monetary or emotional given your unique situation or that of the employee. Consider instituting an innovation award program which actively solicits creative ideas and publicly rewards employee contributions. Sometimes simple recognition is enough, but often a financial bonus will help show the company’s value of their contributions better than anything else.
Allow for Bottom-up Innovation
Many employees who are not otherwise involved in the leadership of a company feel like it might not be their place to suggest innovations or changes. This is really too bad as often it is the employees with their boots on the ground who are best able to provide insight into needed improvements and make valuable suggestions to improve processes. Encourage creative thinking on the part of all your employees and you might be surprised what innovations come your way.
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