Innovation in the workplace is essential to be competitive and to stay ahead. When you run a business, you can’t be the only one who’s thinking about innovation. It has to be something you’re encouraging in the workplace as a whole and among your employees.
When you have an innovative workplace and employees at each level, it means that you’re going to find they’re able to come up with not only different products and services but ways of doing things.
The following are some of the best tips to inspire innovation in the workplace as we’re nearing a new year.
1. Give Your Employees Space
One thing that leaders of innovative organizations do differently is to make space for their employees to think, dream and consider their own way of doing things.
Along with avoiding micromanagement, you also want to be mindful that you’re not crushing innovation by making deadlines that are too harsh or putting too many other initiatives on employees.
Some leaders give their employees time every week that’s considered personal to them, where they can just think outside the box, brainstorm, or start to come up with solutions to solve problems.
In general, you don’t want your employees to feel like they’re always jumping through hoops for anything.
If you’re stifling your employees with meetings, for example, this is taking away from their ability to be creative and innovate. Try to remove the red tape and any bureaucracy as much as you can.
2. Don’t Punish Failure
If your culture is one that punishes failure, there’s not only going to be no incentive for innovation, but you’re also actively discouraging it, whether you realize it or not.
An innovative leader is someone who takes smart risks that are well-thought-out and encourages their team to act similarly.
If you and your team have a fear of failure, it’s one of the biggest impediments to the process of innovation. If you’re setting the tone that everything possible should be done to avoid failure, your team isn’t going to be comfortable even with calculated risk.
Rather than punishing failure or promoting fear of failure, encourage experimentation and, when something goes wrong, come together as a team to think about and understand the problem on a deeper level.
3. Empower Your Employees
There are so many ways you can start to empower your employees at work. Stepping back and letting them do their work in the way they see fit is one way.
You want to empower them in other ways. For example, open up your workplace to more flexibility. Maybe your team isn’t going to work all of the time remotely but let your employees have some say in how their time is scheduled and the work environment they feel is best for them.
You can also empower your employees by asking them for feedback and putting that to use. Empowered employees come from feeling like they make a difference at work and that their thoughts and opinions matter.
When employees are empowered, they’re more comfortable taking risks and making decisions, and those are things that can facilitate innovation.
4. Set Clear Goals
If you want to be able to step back from micromanagement and empower your employees, the only way you’re going to be able to do this successfully is by setting clear, specific, and achievable goals. Your employees will know where they need to go to succeed, but they can find their own path when goals are well-defined.
If you have a specific problem that you’d like your employees to think about innovatively, you can also define this.
This gives teams some of the pressure required for forward momentum without stifling problem-solving and innovative thinking.
5. Compensate Employees for Ideas and Also the Identification of Problems
A big part of innovation doesn’t just having a good idea. First, employees have to be able to identify problems successfully and then work toward solving those with good ideas.
Be an employer that compensates both.
Maybe this means financial compensation, or it can mean some other type of reward, like recognition.
6. Encourage Collaboration and Communication
Finally, there are going to be times when innovation might arise from giving employees quiet time to think on their own, but then at other times, it might come from collaboration and communication. Make room for both in your workplace.
Create a culture that encourages sharing ideas and breaking down communication barriers and potential silos.