The growth and success of your company depends on its ability to anticipate market needs and stay ahead of industry trends. Being able to do so keeps your business competitive. To maintain a large part of the market share, you need to boost innovation among your employees.
· Create a Culture of Innovation
Ensure employees know leaders care more about outcomes than they do established procedures. This will encourage employees to take risks without fear of jeopardizing their jobs. They will be more likely to come up with unique ideas for new procedures, products or techniques to increase efficiency and/or quality in attaining desired outcomes. Also, foster trust, support and understanding that things will not always go according to plan. Employees always can apply what they learned to achieve more positive results.
· Encourage Risk-Taking
Discuss company goals, define the purpose for thinking outside the box, and set loose guidelines to keep the creative process growing and on task. Request that leaders encourage their team members to think critically, ask questions, try new approaches and reflect on their work in progress. Also, encourage leaders to act as role models by taking risks themselves and sharing their results with the entire office, regardless of the outcome. Employees will become comfortable exploring new ideas, opening their minds to change, and accepting failure as part of learning.
· Create Cross-Functional Teams
Group together members with different skill sets needed to complete a particular project. Each team will have a smaller pool of decision makers who can collaborate on insightful answers to problems. Your company will be more agile in thinking outside the box to overcome obstacles.
· Tolerate Mistakes
Innovation does not happen without making mistakes. Being tolerant of errors fosters trust, encourages experimentation and promotes growth. For example, set up opportunities for employees to share ideas with their managers and colleagues. Have each team discuss possible benefits and pitfalls of the ideas in an encouraging way. Once an idea has been thoroughly developed, create an outline for reaching the goal and allow the employee to take the next steps. Check in from time to time to offer guidance, otherwise let them work independently. If things do not work out, costs are minimized and the idea can be improved upon.
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