How to encourage innovation in the workplace
Managed IT Services
It’s an exciting time for the business world, where leaders and teams who dare to do things differently frequently enjoy massive rewards. And while you might not be in a position to become a genuine disruptor in your industry, exciting innovations that allow you to stand out from your competitors are definitely still worth pursuing – no matter what line of business you’re in.
To come up with a winning strategy, you need insight and ideas from every member of the team. This way you can pool your resources, knowledge and inspirations to come up with something truly unique.
But how do you get your employees interested and motivated enough to become genuine innovators? Let’s take a look!
Bring your employees on board
First and foremost, your employees – from the most junior interns to the top supervisors – need to know that their ideas and input are valued. Make it clear that the company is actively looking for fresh insights and is open to change – and that you’re willing to reward great ideas. Encourage teams to keep their eyes open for new technologies, platforms, and strategies that the business could make use of.
Create the right environment for innovation
Everyone finds inspiration at different times and in different places. Like with so many creative activities, trying to ‘force’ an inspiration rarely works! While creating fun team activities and events is a great way to boost morale and camaraderie (therefore making people more likely to speak up when the lightning does strike) try not to expect miracles from a dedicated brainstorming session.
Rather, use these sessions to flesh out ideas, throw a few new concepts out there, and make it known that you’re open to feedback at any time. Many people prefer to mull things over quietly on their own, and come back to you once they’ve had a chance to let their idea ‘marinade’.
Give incentives for great ideas
While you can (and should) explore the idea of offering financial incentives for ideas that boost sales or reduce costs, this is not the only meaningful way to get people motivated. If your budget is a little tight, then rewards such as being able to leave the office early on a Friday, or take an extra day paid leave for free, may work just as well.
It’s hard for anyone to think creatively when they’re already struggling with inefficient processes or bottlenecks in performing their normal, day to day tasks. The more you’re able to streamline potentially time-consuming activities, the more time and mental energy your employees will have to dedicate to research and outside-the-box thinking.
One strategy that can help almost immediately is to partner with a managed IT services provider to come in, identify problem areas, and implement the right solution to eliminate the problem. They’ll also be able to advise you on new technologies and solutions which might not have occurred to you otherwise.
You can also take a good look at your internal workflows, get feedback from your employees on their biggest challenges during the day, and work together to find ways to make their roles easier.
Get an outside eye
Large companies increasingly hire employees with titles like ‘Chief Innovation Officer’ – someone whose sole responsibility is identifying ways to do business better, outperform the competition, and adapt to a rapidly changing business world. For small and medium businesses, bringing someone on full time to act in this capacity is rarely an option – but that doesn’t mean you can’t still take advantage of an outside opinion.
Often, we’ve become so used to doing things in certain ways that we’re not really able to envision doing it any other way – and that’s when talking to someone on the outside looking in can be invaluable. One way to do this without spending a cent is simply to network with other business owners and entrepreneurs and get to know them. This includes not just those in your own field, but ideally from a broad range of industries and backgrounds.
By sharing what’s worked for you and what hasn’t, both parties can benefit from a fresh perspective, as well as sharing connections and contacts who may be of use to the other. You can then take those insights and ideas back to your employees, discuss them, and hopefully light the fires of inspiration!
After all, encouraging innovation will always go back to being the kind of leader that inspires their employees to aim higher, think differently, and dream bigger!