It’s innovation that drives a company’s success, and keeps it one step ahead of the competition.
But innovation isn’t just reserved for upper management level figures to contribute. Rather, it comes from all members of the team. And it’s the savvy leaders that are able to recognize that fact and harness the innovative minds of every employee within an organization.
But how can you extract that desire to develop from each employee, and convince them all to be part of business innovation on a daily basis?
Show Employees Opportunities to Enhance Their Path
It’s not often that you’ll find employees who are content doing the same job day in and day out without any opportunity to excel in their field or advance within their organization. Most workers want to know that there’s no ceiling on how far they can go to further their careers. And as such, it’s important to point out all the opportunities that lay ahead for those who are willing to step out and put their two cents in about how the company can make improvements on their product or service.
Career development opportunities are a crucial component of employee engagement. In fact, knowing that career development exists and is possible is an incredibly poignant means of boosting employee engagement.
At the end of the day, if employees have a real desire to advance in their own careers, they’ll be more likely to be key players in the innovation of the business. If they feel as though such opportunities are limited or even nonexistent, they’ll be more likely to remain in their own cocoon, or simply look elsewhere.
Traditional business structures tended to focus on a hierarchical structure, whereby it was necessary to “climb the corporate ladder” in order to achieve any level of success and advancement within a company. Thankfully, times have changed, and such hierarchy is being replaced with a ‘flatter’ system that is team-based. By generating a workplace that eliminates the pecking order and a sense of superiority of bosses over employees, a feeling of autonomy can be better fostered and a creative business culture can emerge.
Making the hierarchy as unimportant as possible can encourage employees to be more inventive and develop a greater sense of ownership. Creating a structure of fewer managers, more opportunities can arise by allowing employees to essentially only have to move laterally rather than vertically. Such freedom and leveling of the playing field can streamline the pathway to employee success.
Communicate Goals to Give Employees a Real Reason to be Involved and Innovative
Having a mission or a goal that employees can work toward will help keep them involved and innovative as they pursue common objectives. A clear statement of the company’s mission will help employees be better able to pursue the proper end without trying to reach their own individual goals that may not necessarily be conducive to a cohesive and profitable company.
An explicit mission dictates what the company is trying to do, and proposes a stimulating vision of the organization’s future. But such a mission statement can’t be vague. Instead, it needs to be detailed and concise in order to rationalize why everyone involved in the company needs to be forward-thinking. The real value of innovation only comes when there is an important purpose for it. And communicating that with employees is crucial.
Create Gentle Daily Reminders About the Company’s Mission
Once the company’s goal is clearly communicated, gently reminding employees on a daily basis helps to keep that mission at the forefront. It’s easy to forget what the mission is, despite being enthusiastic about it from the start.
Tasks get in the way, and obstacles can distract from the real purpose of the organization. By offering little reminders without bombarding employees, they can more easily retain focus on why they are there.
Make Each Job in the Company Just as Important as the Next
No one’s job is more important than another’s. Each person plays their part in the operation of a company, from the clerk in the mail room all the way to the CEO. Everyone is essentially part owner of the company, and has their role in its success.
The greatest leaders are those who view each and every employee as a piece of the puzzle, and understand the importance of everyone’s role in the greater mission of the organization. By doing so, employees will become more engaged in their work, and will be more apt to contribute to the company’s innovation.
Make Room For Mistakes
Nobody’s perfect. In fact, it’s through mistakes that we truly learn, and letting employees know that it’s OK to falter now and again will make them feel comfortable taking risks for the greater good of the company. Trial and error is just part and parcel to the journey of success in business and in life.
No one wants to work in an environment where mistakes are shunned and punished. This simply makes for a stressful environment, where employees are more likely to hide behind their desks and remain anonymous rather than spread their wings and try something new that just might be the ticket to taking the company to the next level. Empowering employees to pursue innovation can pay out big time.
The Bottom Line
Every organization is different, as is its culture. While it’s important to be mindful about your approach to encouraging innovation among employees, it’s vital to make sure your tactics align with your company’s specific goals. Whatever you choose to do, make it clear, simple and rewarding for everyone who plays an influential role in the innovative culture you’re aiming for.