In our world of rapidly changing business practices and marketing techniques, innovation is essential for keeping businesses in the race. Fostering a business that thrives off change and innovation may seem illustrious and distant, but it isn’t out of reach—even if you’re working with a small team.
There are plenty of unique ways to get creative, but without first implementing these key concepts, your efforts won’t be as successful as you hope.
1. Create an atmosphere of psychological safety
This may seem obvious, but it’s all too often taken for granted. At some point, most of us have worked under a manager who valued their position of power and resisted anything that might threaten it. Like that great idea you had about how to attract a new type of customer.
“That’s great, but we like how things are now and we don’t want to upset the balance we’ve created.” In other words: “I am comfortable being the shot caller and I don’t want anything to change in case it affects my position.”
This behavior is not only toxic to the future of the company, but to the employees working around it. No one wants to be shot down for their idea, or to see their ideas get pushed aside over and over again. Eventually, they’ll stop speaking up and start looking for a job where the contribution of their ideas is welcomed.
Ensuring that every employee from each level of the company has the opportunity to share ideas expands your resources. Each employee is exposed to unique challenges and experiences based on their job, and they just might come up with something that management would never have thought of.
Your employees are the driving force behind your vision and accomplishing your goals. Without a culture that praises and encourages new solutions, ideas, and tools offered up by employees, no one will want to contribute, and you’ll lose their buy-in. Show them you value their ideas by giving them the opportunity to share and act on them.
2. Encourage collaboration
Collaboration fosters imagination, productivity, and inspiration. Think back to the last time you had a great meeting with a group of people that fed off each other’s energy and ideas, where you got more done in an hour together than you had all month alone.
Take advantage of this collaborative approach in your organization by giving employees opportunities to learn and expand their vision.
- Conferences are a great opportunity to get people working with each other and expose your employees to new ideas and techniques. They also provide a chance for you to stay up-to-date on what your competitors and peers are doing. Encouraging employees to attend conferences is also a great way to give them a refresher—get them out of the office and into something new so when they come back, they’ll be full of new ideas and energy.
Great teamwork is one of the most coveted accomplishments in business. Nothing generates productivity and success like a team that works together to implement new ideas and challenge the status quo. Building teams and a culture of collaboration is a huge part of getting ideas flowing and generating momentum within your company. Assign team leaders who are responsible for bringing new ideas to leadership to ensure they get heard and considered.
There are countless professionals in every area of business that are interested in helping and collaborating with each other. There isn’t anything to be gained from keeping your employees separate from other professionals in their field just because you don’t want to share with competition. There is plenty to go around, so don’t hesitate to send your employees out into their professional community to sus out new ideas, technology, and techniques.
- Aligning Departments
Interdepartmental collaboration is so important, not just for creating an innovative culture, but to help align your business with your core goals and values. Set up meetings between departments to talk about the challenges they face and crowdsource ideas about how to address them. You never know, Sadie from marketing might just have the perfect solution for dealing with a common roadblock that is stopping sales from closing their leads.
Taking full advantage
It’s critical to remember that each employee at your company has something unique to offer. Each person has their own strengths, interests, and motivations. By building a culture that encourages and enables each employee to bring all their tools to the table, you’re diversifying your pool of potential solutions to any problem.
The key is to remember the individuality of your employees and incorporate it into the heart of how you run your company. When employees can tell their ideas and solutions are valued, they are more likely to feel a sense of loyalty to their workplace. Not to mention heightened engagement. That’s what smart business is all about.
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Photo by Aleksandr Davydov