Managing a team can be tough, especially when deadlines are creeping up or the bottom line isn’t quite matching up with expectations. The problem with this is that management and companies often get so caught up in the day-to-day operation of their company that they fail to see the big picture for what it is. In fact, this kind of stagnation not only leads to an uncompetitive firm but, ultimately, the demise of the business entirely.
And this rule applies in nearly every industry: You need to pivot, innovate, and keep moving or the competition will overtake you—and fast. One of the best methods for making sure that you are not only on top of your game, but also exploring new avenues and methodologies is to encourage an innovation culture within your company. We’ve outlined ten excellent ways that you can use to foster an innovation culture within your team and help take your company and employees to the next level.
1. Communication with Your Team
When you are undertaking a transformation in your company, you need to have clear channels of communication and involve every team member in the process. This includes effectively communicating any problems that might arise as well as welcoming suggestions for change. You can try implementing an all-hands-on-deck, no-agenda meeting format or you could elicit feedback continually through a scheduled process.
The goal here is to empower your company to think outside of the box and to correct problems as they arise with novel solutions and suggestions. If employees feel like their input is not valued, then their contribution to your company’s innovation culture will be minimal.
2. Workshops for Employees
Companies can also try scheduling workshops that target specific goals and firm needs. The purpose of these workshops is to expose employees to new ways of thinking and perhaps even refresh their knowledge on current industry best practices.
3. Innovation Crash Courses
Like a workshop but more general, an innovation crash course is a way for companies to instill, in broad strokes, the values that an innovation culture seeks to create within a company. This could be anything from how to approach management with an idea to how to spot opportunities for innovation in the workplace.
4. Innovation Days
Innovation days could help your team (or teams) break out into groups to consider what’s going well, what’s not working right, and what we can do about it in the future. Having scheduled innovation days can help incentivize employee participation in the process of transformation as well as give them space to express their ideas with their colleagues.
5. Creativity Workshops
Whereas workshops for employees may be specifically targeted at particular areas of the company’s interest, a creativity workshop is about thinking in new and novel ways in general. This could be especially helpful for teams that are stuck in a routine or that refuse to see new ways of doing things. The point of these workshops is to teach people broader lessons about innovation and how to create an atmosphere conducive to that within their company in a general sense.
6. Pitching Contests
A pitching contest is, as the name implies, an opportunity for employees to throw out a new idea to management to see if they like it. Think of it as the popular TV show Shark Tank except you’re trying to sell an idea or new way of doing things to your company.
7. Recognizing Innovation and Encouraging it
Part of an overlying culture of innovation is the process of recognizing it, rewarding it, and promoting it to other members of your team. You could create an awards format, give monetary incentives, or simply recognize excellence in weekly emails or meetings. The point here is that the company makes it a priority to find those team players that are pushing the envelope and encourages them to continue to do so.
8. Implementing Innovation on a Trial Basis
When your employees come up with a new idea, or you find one through some other method, you need to go with it on a trial basis. Why? Employees and management are sometimes resistant to change, but may be more amenable to it if it is presented as a temporary situation. The goal here is to demonstrate the benefits of the innovation before moving forward and to make your team eager to embrace the changes wholeheartedly.
9. Setting Aside Time Specifically Dedicated to Innovation Culture
Marking certain calendar days as “Innovation Days” is another method of prompting your employees to come armed with new ideas. These “Innovation Days” could focus on specific industry movements or touch more broadly on the process and method of creating sustainable and meaningful change in your company.
10. Creating Innovation Labs
An innovation lab is a more permanent fixture than many on this list and what it basically does is help your company come up with new ways of doing things, new products, or new markets. Apart yet integrated with the rest of the company, the innovation lab’s job is to see ways that the company could do things better, figure out how to do that, and proceed with rallying stakeholders to make the change happen.
What are some ways you foster innovation culture in a team? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.