Innovation is a critical factor in improving the competitiveness of a business. What does it take to drive innovation in a team? It’s all about building a culture of flexibility and that accepts the associated risks. Innovation also thrive in favorable environments where employees are motivated for their hardwork.
Here’s what entrepreneurs and business owners had to say about how they drive innovation in their teams.
#1- Acknowledging and encouraging them
Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the best ways to build a strong, innovative team is by encouragement that is specific to each team member. By acknowledging individual contributions, you help each member of the team to feel valued and supported, and mutual respect can be nurtured. It’s equally as important to empathize with your team members and to understand that everyone is different and may respond differently to certain situations. You may have to adapt your management style to fit everyone, but by doing so, you ensure that each member feels supported and comfortable enough to begin creating on their own. If you stand behind your team and are willing to support them every step of the way, you ultimately empower them to accomplish their goals and responsibilities. An innovative team is one that values every member and works together as a cohesive unit.
Thanks to Monica Eaton-Cardone, Chargebacks911!
#2- Create a safe space
To get your team to innovate, first you have to make sure people feel safe and that it's okay to make mistakes. You improve quickly by learning from mistakes. At 911 Restoration, we are very transparent with company goals and objectives. We give each team the freedom to create their own objectives and reach the company goals, and then every team shares their objectives and progress and that way, the teams work together to understand the company's goals. They have the freedom to find new, creative ways for us to all reach out goals as a company.
Thanks to Idan Shpizear, 911 Restoration!
#3- Don’t overwork your team
Do not give your staff so many tasks that 40 hours or more of their work week are filled up by daily and/or mundane tasks. You need to leave room for creativity. Be comfortable, and allow your staff to be comfortable with the fact that sometimes they may have some “free time” at work where they can play around on the internet, peruse social media or listen to a podcast. This may seem counterproductive, but I’d argue that it’s the key to creative productivity. If you talk to most people, they’ll tell you they get their best ideas in the shower, in the car, at the park, or anywhere else where they are not working. The reason is because we need time to let our minds activate its creative side, which is very hard to access when you’re focused on completing logical type tasks. They are different parts of the brain, so we need to give them equal opportunities to work. Beyond that, the things that someone would do with their “downtime” would probably expose them to other companies, trending topics, and new ideas, so their “downtime” is actually market research. Also, when you overwork people, they tend to just come in to do the work you tell them to do, and there is no motivation to go be creative, because that just means more work for them.
Thanks to Chris Colbert, DCP Entertainment!
#4- Let them focus on the important
The best way to innovate a team is to allow them to focus on what they feel is most important to them, obviously within reason. Bossing a team around will lead them to feel that what they are doing is strictly “busy work”, but allowing the team to show its creative side will allow them to enjoy what they are doing and put more effort into innovating.
Thanks to Akiva Aranoff, Maestra!
#5- Empower them
Encourage them to speak up during meetings with new ideas and insights. Ask for feedback. Create opportunities to brainstorm with the team. Innovation begins with thoughts and ideas and great minds think unalike.
Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!
#6- Give the team autonomy
In my opinion and experience, giving your team autonomy is the starting point to encourage innovation. This approach lets ideas permeate naturally through the ambiguity of a lack of direct instruction. Often leading to ideas and methods you directly wouldn't have thought of. The plus of this approach is that if your team knows you trust them and you let them get on with it, they move faster and often at a harder pace.
Thanks to Ahmed Mir, Nature and Bloom!
#7- Looking internally
Slow seasons and economic downturns can be frustrating but use them as an opportunity to analyze your business from the inside out. Without taking your attention off securing new leads and business, take this time to get all your records organized and in tip-top shape for peak season. Update your distribution lists, clean out your files, and hold an innovation summit with your own employees to see what new ideas they have. The best ideas will often come from within, and your own employees are an incredible source of innovation that cannot be ignored.
Thanks to David Adler, The Travel Secret!
Reward failing fast. Teams don't always come up with the best solution in just one try. Leaders should encourage thinking out of the box, testing and iterating fast out of failures. This will encourage teams to stretch their boundaries and be even more creative. Leaders should clear the path for innovation to occur. This means removing the red tape and eliminating unnecessary hoops that teams must jump through to not only come up with innovation but to also implement it. Take a look at internal processes and identify those which may be stifling innovation. Look for ways to streamline the process so your teams can see their great ideas in action quickly.
Thanks to Gretchen Asher, The Essential CEO!
#9- Give them a constraint
We need to grow the business and market our product but we cannot spend more than 10% of our budget on acquiring new customers. How do we do it? If you give them the easy option that everybody does, then they'll never have to think outside the box and discover a new and successful way of doing things.
Thanks to Dave Munson, Saddleback Leather Co.!
#10- Include them
What sets a successful company apart from its competitors is the innovation that your team has and can provide. It is a foundation, a backbone of a company's success but encouraging and nudging the staff and employees to think out-of-the-box, creatively can be difficult. You have to make them compassionate about their job and company. You have to give them a reason to care. How? Very simple, by including them. Make sure to keep your team is aware of the company's strategies and challenges, and do invite them for their input. Avoid criticizing your employees and empower them to make their own decisions. Try to remove too many procedures and red-tapism. Too many internal processes and procedures can choke creativity and innovation. Promote and help employees maintain their balance of work and life. Redistribute workload regularly and try bringing temporary professionals during peak demands. Other tips include minimizing stressful environment, fixing day-offs, team bonding efforts, etc.
Thanks to Jennifer Willy, Etia.Com!
#11- Encourage the flow of ideas
Innovation is nurtured by creativity, and nothing inspires creativity better than having members of your team share ideas with one another. It is important to encourage the diverse exchange of these ideas in the workplace. A steady flow of ideas inspires members to think and come up with fresh concepts. Team members should also pick up the habit of healthy discussions to avoid out-of-control arguments when sharing opposing ideas.
Thanks to John Stevenson, Top VPN Canada!
#12- Give them a reason to care
Whether you talk of innovation or something else- if you want your team to do it, you must give them a reason to care. Explain clearly why you need to innovate. Are your rivals beating you? Will it make their lives easier? Will it ensure better quality of work? Talk honestly about your strategy and explain to them the need for innovation. Next, tell them about your strategy- and also encourage them to give feedback. Your team should know what your goals are, and how it will affect them. Ask for their opinions- you may reject something you don’t like, but hear them out. You never know when you come across a good idea- and open, honest communication is the best way to inspire trust in your team and is more likely to win their support and cooperation.
Thanks to Avinash Chandra, BrandLoom!
#13- It all starts with the hiring process!
When looking at potential employees, it's important to think about the traits that will make a person a truly innovative part of the team. Think about characteristics such as willingness to learn, experience working in a team environment, creative thinking and more. During an interview, you can quickly begin to see if a person will fit into your office culture and be an innovative member of your team.
Thanks to Andrea Loubier, Mailbird!
#14- Two steps
If you want innovation and creativity from your team, first you need to let them know they can come to you with ideas. Secondly that you will still be pleased even if the idea isn’t used. Fear holds a lot of employees back from contributing. They’re on the ground floor so they may spot better ways of doing things. Don’t forget that managing other people isn’t about bossing them about, it’s about drawing out their skills and talents.. If you let them see that’s how you run things, they’ll come to you with suggestions.
Thanks to Morgan Taylor, LetMeBank!
#15- Interchange the departments for a day
A good way to innovate a team is to ask employees to work in another department for a day. Sales specialists work in the customer service team, customer service specialists work in the marketing team, marketers work in sales, web developers work as graphic designers etc. It's a great way to understand what your colleagues in other departments are doing every day, to make people bond together and to improve communication within the company.
Thanks to Gregory Golinski, YourParkingSpace.co.uk!
#16- Provide room for growth
One way to keep one’s team innovative and productive is by making sure that there’s always room for growth which may come in forms of training and upskilling opportunities. In order to keep up with a growing workforce, companies should not limit their employees’ abilities and should instead always expand their horizons.
Thanks to Mike Richards, Golf Einstein!