How to help employees be more innovative



Staff

By Danny Davis

More business leaders have started to see that those who succeed are those who are constantly developing and innovating to stay ahead of the rest of the pack.

Although your management may be aware of the need for innovation, it can be difficult to communicate this to employees, and some organisations resort to recruiting new staff members, rather than trying to encourage their existing employees to think more innovatively.

If your employees are struggling with innovation, they may not be to blame. When was the last time you looked at your business governance framework, and evaluated how innovation friendly it is? Your employees can’t become more innovative if they don’t have the resources or the authority to implement more innovative practices. Rather than looking outside your business for more innovative employees, you may want to think about redeveloping your policies and business processes to encourage, measure and reward more innovative thinking among your existing staff members.

There are three angles your business can focus on to successfully become more innovative. These are people, processes and technology. Providing your employees with the training, management and guidelines to help them be more innovative, and to challenge common assumptions, and implementing the right processes, can help them be more engaged. Your business processes can help them use their skills in the right direction, rather than wasting time and money on unproductive areas of the business. The right management frameworks give them the means to implement their ideas, and measure the results.

If you are interested in making your business more innovative, a good first step is to measure the current innovation capacity of your business. Do your employees have the authority and accountability to innovate? Do they have enough support from management and enough resources to do a good job? What about your processes? Finding out whether your innovation weak points are, is the first step to addressing these weaknesses and improving the future performance of your business.

It is not enough for you and your management to understand the importance of innovation, to be truly successful, your business needs to innovate on every level. This means that your employees need to be encouraged to think more innovatively, and be rewarded for their ideas. Simply telling them to innovate without providing them with the tools and resources to support their efforts is not likely to produce a long-lasting, sustainable result.

With the business world changing as rapidly as it is, if you aren’t innovating, there is a strong likelihood your business will be left behind.

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