Innovation is crucial to the success of any business. But your business can’t just talk the talk. You actually have to give your employees ways of being innovative in order to set your company up for success. But are you doing enough to create a culture of innovation in the workplace? Are you fostering a positive and creative workplace culture for your employees?
If you feel like you could be doing more to promote a more innovative workplace culture, then you’ve landed on the right article!
Not only does more innovation increase your company’s revenue, but it also creates a sense of purpose among your employees. It gives them a sense of ownership and pride, which often translates to better products and services that can actually improve your customers’ lives.
And beyond that, a culture of innovation can help your company overcome challenges and meet industry disruptions. In other words, you won’t just be riding out the storm, but clearing a path through the tumult.
So if all of that sounds great (and we certainly think it does!), here are some tips on how to create a culture of innovation in the workplace.
Take A Multi-Faceted Approach
Understanding the different types of innovation you are trying to foster is key. Most people think of innovation as just happing in the area of product development, but to be successful, you want to foster innovation across your organization in a multi-faceted approach that gives your organization greater agility.
What are these different arenas of innovation? Forbes suggests starting with the “4 P’s: profit models, processes, products and policies.” This allows for employees to add value in areas where they have deep knowledge and a desire to get involved. One company that has been particularly good at this multi-faceted approach is Microsoft. Since moving beyond the traditional product focus, Microsoft’s innovation efforts have taken the company in directions that were previously unthinkable, such as the company’s ongoing efforts to establish legal precedents that push back against the NSA and EU regulators on privacy and disclosure requirements.
Make Employees Empowered to Push Back
Company structure can be a good thing because it provides clear reporting lines, however, it can also provide roadblocks to innovation. Middle managers are tasked with ensuring optimal performance in a company’s core activities and have little desire or capacity to jeopardize that with unproven ideas. This means that employees often get an early “no” from their direct supervisor and that creative idea goes into the dust heap of time. This can discourage employees from coming up with future creative ideas–something you don’t want.
The goal is to empower your employees to push back by providing innovation champions. This gives your employees a friendly, safe space to test their new ideas while providing a level of protection against managers who are charged with focusing on the core activities.
Change the Incentive Metric
New ideas are often judged by the same metrics used to evaluate activities the business has been involved in for years. And too often, that means employees are told to innovate but their performance goals and compensation packages don’t create an incentive to do so.
Rather than having a culture that is willing to fire people for taking on challenges (we know, this seems counter-intuitive, but businesses do it far too often), give employees an incentive to innovate. Each company is different, so the incentives you offer are up to you–just don’t punish people for wanting to get creative when it comes to overcoming a challenge your company faces. Your company will be better for it in the end.
Provide the Toolkit
Even the best ideas won’t get traction if an employee isn’t able to make clear what the value is to the company. Many companies invest in innovation programs but they fail to give their employees the framework or tools to show why their ideas are worthwhile. So don’t just teach your employees how to come up with good ideas, but also train them on what to do with those ideas, from who to speak to about the idea and how they should speak about it. It’s about giving your employees the tools and resources to create business pitches that highlight the value of and demonstrate their ideas.
Get a Diverse Field
Innovation comes not just from having the right tools, but the right people. What do we mean by this? Innovation comes from a diversity of ideas. Hiring diverse candidates, with different lived experiences, can bring new perspectives to challenges that your company faces. And one great idea can lead to the next as your employees inspire one another! Plus, when you have a variety of ideas to choose from, you can select the best ones, allowing you to better overcome challenges.
Ready to hire for diversity? Try out the Culture Fit Assessment. Our proprietary hiring tool uses 26 objective characteristics to help you eliminate boas and hire candidates that fit in your company culture! Schedule a demo to learn more.