Innovation is the backbone of every successful company. Are you setting your business apart from the competition?
Getting staff to think creatively isn’t always easy, though. In a survey by Robert Half, 35 percent of chief financial officers said the greatest roadblock to organisational breakthroughs is a lack of new ideas.
Here are 6 ways to overcome those challenges and encourage creativity on your team:
Give employees a reason to care
If people aren’t feeling connected to your company, there’s little incentive for them to be innovative. Make sure staff are in the loop and invite their input. Employees who are involved early on in plans will be motivated to see them through to completion.
Also, give staff the power to make decisions and take action. People who are trusted to take safe risks and attempt new ways of doing things just may stumble upon that next great business solution. Be careful about being too critical when things go wrong, though. No one wants to be the centre of negative attention, and people will hold back on making suggestions if they’re worried about potential consequences.
Don’t make staff jump through hoops
You may think that it’s easy for employees to offer their ideas, but is it really? If managers are constantly behind closed doors and meetings tend to be one-way discussions, the message to staff is that their feedback isn’t welcome. Keep your office doors open as much as possible and let employees know that their ideas are always valued. Use your intranet, brainstorming sessions or even an old-fashioned suggestion box to solicit input.
Setting up contests for individuals at work can be useful for goals such as achieving sales targets. However, be cautious about creating too competitive of a work environment. When employees are aiming for a reward, they may be reluctant to speak up for fear that their suggestions will be stolen.
Calm the naysayers
A key reason people often hesitate to offer fresh proposals is that they worry what others might say. No one wants to have their ideas shot down immediately or become fodder for jokes. Make sure you’re doing all you can to make it safe to brainstorm. Even if someone makes an unrealistic suggestion, thank the person for thinking creatively.
Allow people to their recommendations in writing if they’re not comfortable speaking up. Stress to the entire team that you welcome input any way they prefer to share it with you.
When people feel overworked, their last priority is trying to be creative; they just want to get through what must be done at the moment. Make preventing burnout a high priority. Promote work-life balance by offering telecommuting or consider bringing in temporary professionals during peak demands to keep everyone fresh and focused.
Set the example
Recognise that as a leader, you are the model for the entire team. If you never think creatively with your own work, you can’t really expect your employees to do the opposite. It stands to reason that a relaxed, positive mood is more conducive to innovative thoughts than a tense one. Whenever possible, don’t skip your lunch break, and take a head-clearing walk when you need to recharge.
Finally, take a serious look at the skill sets in your team. When was the last time you supported training and education? People need to be given the tools to think innovatively and that includes keeping their knowledge and expertise up-to-date. With the right management approach, you can not only help your staff enhance their contributions but also make yours a better workplace.