Every CEO wants their employees to be energetic and innovative. However, very few actually create an environment that is conducive to innovation.
Innovation cannot stem from within constraints or confined boundaries. Neither can it happen if one is forced to keep doing the same things in the same manner. It can only occur when they have the leverage to think and do things outside the box.
William McKnight, a famous Businessman, and philanthropist, sums up why most companies are unable to see innovative ideas coming from their employees-, “Listen to anyone with an original idea, no matter how absurd it may sound at first. If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need”.
If you consider companies like Google and Apple, they are innovative because they have created a culture that supports innovation. They have created safe spaces, devoid of judgment, for their employees to fearlessly innovate. They have made it a process to learn from their mistakes and grow. They know that failure is the pillar to success.
How to Encourage Innovation in Your Company (the Right Way)
So, if you want to create an environment of innovation in your company, the following ideas could help you give your employees a nudge in the right direction.
Create a Safe Space
Creative people can have the craziest ideas. So much that their ideas may seem almost absurd in the beginning. But they can also make mistakes and many of their ideas may prove to be worthless. However, they should get an opportunity to voice any ideas.
In most companies, employees are hesitant to talk about their ideas because they are scared of being ridiculed by their team leaders and the management. They are scared that their rejected ideas will get them a poor score during appraisals. All of these inhibitions do not let them share their ideas.
To achieve a positive work culture, companies need to create a safe space for employees to discuss even the most absurd ideas without the fear of ridicule or reprimand.
Minimize Fear of Failure
Failure is part of life and without it, there cannot be growth. However, when an organization does not support failure, it can cause a lot of stress for its employees. The fear of failure is the biggest hindrance to creativity. . The fear of blame and repercussions can prevent employees from bringing their A-game. Thus, in a company where there is a lack of courage to accept failure, innovation can hardly happen.
Conduct a Premortem
Innovative projects can fail, and they can fail badly. Therefore, it is not always the lack of innovation that causes projects to fail- but sometimes it is the inability to do a premortem.
This concept of Premortem, which was popularized by psychologist Gary Klein, is an exercise where the team discusses the numerous ways in which a project can fail. This is normally done during the brainstorming phase of an innovative project. However, sometimes the team is reluctant to speak their minds and be open about certain project-related inhibitions, leading to failure.
For example, Google. Inc has an exercise called a “premortem discussion” before launching any project. Apart from foreseeing what can go wrong, this type of discussion also helps to normalize failure by talking about it openly.
Most importantly, this exercise can provide the benefit of learning from mistakes. This also minimizes the actual pain of failure.
Hence, you have to encourage a detailed discussion without inhibitions or judgment and embrace the chance of failure to further grow.
In an atmosphere of secrecy, innovative ideas can never flourish. Therefore, a company should share as much information as possible with the employees and strive for transparency. If your employees are not innovating, then it is time you reconsider how transparent are you with your plans and projects. There should be a shared vision, and every employee should know where the business is headed towards. Keeping your employees in the dark about your plans will not encourage innovation.
Lack of transparency is not the only reason. There should be a culture of open communication. An employee should have access to anyone in the company when they need to. Many companies now have an open-door policy. Similarly, they should have an open communication system where any employee can email even the CEO. Connection and collaboration make it easy for employees to execute their ideas better.
Hire Curious People
Before you complain that employees are not innovating, check if you have hired the right people. Often many companies hire based on good qualifications and references. However, qualification doesn’t necessarily ensure that the person is innovative and creative. There are many creative people with no degrees. College drop-outs innovated and started companies like Facebook, Dell, Apple, Microsoft, etc. However, this doesn’t mean you only hire drop-outs. Ensure that you have a robust screening process while hiring recruits. Hire naturally curious people.
Be Idea Driven and not Profit Driven
As a company, everyone wants to earn profits. However, if your only goal is to make money, it is challenging to execute adventurous ideas. Have faith in ideas to implement innovative ideas. If your employees find that you are courageous enough to implement an idea, they would automatically start innovating to keep pace with you.
As a famous German writer said, “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward, they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”
Encourage with Gifts
An excellent way to encourage innovation is by giving incentives. Often employees become complacent with their ideas and stop brainstorming. A culture of reward can encourage them to activate their grey cells. Employee gifting can be a great way to motivate them to come up with innovative ideas. A bit of healthy competition in the workforce usually leads to more innovation and productivity. To avoid the hassle of picking and sending gifting, choose a gifting partner like EVA to send customized gifts to your employees.