Employees are increasingly rejecting traditional workplace environments. No longer satisfied with clocking in to collect a paycheck, today’s workforce expects their jobs to deliver a sense of deep purpose, one that aids in shaping their identity and provides fulfillment. In a study published by McKinsey last year, “70 percent of employees said that their sense of purpose is defined by their work.” So how do modern managers ensure that employees find purpose in and are excited by their jobs?
One of the greatest motivators for employees comes from a feeling of empowerment to pursue ideas, or the ability to innovate. Allowing your team members to unleash their creativity in professional endeavors can help increase satisfaction at work. Further, the overall organization can benefit, as innovative businesses thrive and have developed some of the greatest inventions in history.
To create an innovative company culture, one where new ideas are introduced, leaders must be intentional, transparent, respectful, and encouraging. Implementing an innovative environment may not be straightforward, depending on an organization's existing environment. Still, there are substantial benefits and a number of measures that can be taken to inspire this cultural shift.
Below are five ways you and other organizational leaders can create a culture of innovation within your team.
1. Empower Your Teammates to Make Decisions and Present New Ideas – A company, like any team, is healthiest and strongest when all members are motivated and empowered. The healthiest organizations also promote diversity of thought and invite varying perspectives into the conversation. The modern-day employee wants to feel heard by upper management and wants a seat at the table when significant decisions are being made. Further, they want to be able to impact their trajectory at an organization by being entrusted to make choices and innovate new processes to enhance operations. Developing an innovative culture starts with ensuring that each employee feels empowered.
2. Collaborate With Your Team to Develop High-Level, Meaningful Goals – While it is important to encourage employees to brainstorm and present new ideas freely, it is not always productive to ideate without an end purpose in mind. It can be important for overall business progress to determine a “north star” vision of what your company should be striving toward to give the innovation a direction. Further, it is essential to include your team members in developing the mission so that there is a mutual agreement with and connection to this greater purpose.
3. Provide Time and Space for Innovative Thinking – While a natural inclination for an employer is to promote constant employee activity, continuous work in excess can lead to burnout and stress – the kryptonite of creativity. Employees need time for rejuvenation and self-care, which provides an opportunity to reset their mental batteries for further innovation. Intentionally instill an environment for employees to feel safe allocating time to brainstorming, reading, or meditating. Perhaps encourage your team members to block off time on their calendars specifically for ideation.
4. Embrace the Reality of Failure, Employ Agility to Correct Course – One of the greatest intellects, Albert Einstein, is quoted as having said, “Failure is success in progress.” When encouraging an innovation environment, with ideation at its core, your team will pursue concepts that are not resounding successes. In fact, they may outright fail, and this is nothing to be fearful of – it is simply a learning opportunity. High-achieving, innovative teams employ an agile mindset when deploying new ideas so that they can efficiently correct course if needed.
5. Practice What You Preach and Lead by Example – Team members follow both verbal and nonverbal cues from management to determine how they should operate in a workplace. Leaders cannot simply instruct their employees to innovate freely if they themselves operate in a highly calculated and risk-averse manner. This innovative culture should be embraced and practiced throughout all levels of an organization, especially at the top. This will enable employees to feel safe enough to let their creativity shine.
Creating an innovative company culture can be highly beneficial to boost team morale and employee satisfaction and to create a mechanism for new business growth. Given the digital age we’re in, there has never been a better time to innovate, as every person has a world of resources at their fingertips. While it may not be easy to shift your organizational environment culture and thinking, creating a culture of innovation helps to recharge and reinvigorate your team.
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