If you want your business to grow and thrive, you have to be open to new ideas and to the option of change. But how do you generate new ideas for your business? Have you ever thought about asking your employees? After all, they’re the people who are in the trenches every day and know your business best.
However, you can’t just ask them for ideas every once in awhile and expect them to produce. You have to create an environment that encourages innovation and creative thinking. How?
The first thing you need to do is establish a company-wide open mindset. Remind your employees that everyone can be an innovator, not just the creative team or the research and development department. And if you’re in a management role, you’re going to need to be comfortable with doing things differently, not always following established procedures and coloring within the lines, so to speak.
Next, start small, with your own team or department. Get the group together to see if you can identify possible ideas that will reduce costs, save time or improve service to customers. If one or two of the ideas are feasible, implement them as soon as possible to demonstrate an innovation success. Just like anything else, getting better at innovation takes practice and support.
Once your team sees how innovation can work, see if you can identify a larger, more ambitious innovation. Put numbers on it: can we reduce costs by 50% or more? Can we offer a package to our customers that will help make them more successful while increasing our business? If you have to ask for buy-in from other departments, so much the better. You’ll be setting a good example for other employees.
When you have a few successes under your belt, you can share them with your colleagues and encourage innovation company wide. Here are a few ways to do so:
- Include innovation as a category in performance reviews
- Recognize employees who try new approaches, even if they’re unsuccessful
- Set aside time for your employees to think and experiment
If these three suggestions seem a little radical for your workplace, at least try a few of these options:
- Give your employees options to share ideas. Instead of an old-fashioned suggestion box, try an intranet forum.
- Hold regular brainstorming workshops or company “away days.”
- Encourage interaction and idea-sharing between teams.
Changing to a more innovative culture takes time. It begins with an attitude adjustment for both management and employees. It may require an organizational shift—to one that is receptive and open to new processes instead of always doing things the same way. The company’s culture must support ideas and creativity in its day-to-day operations.
And don’t forget that hiring people who can think out of the box can be key to your company’s success. Just ask the professionals at Employment Professionals Canada. We’ll be happy to give you tips on interviewing for the right kind of people—or to help you hire them!