Ask any business or nonprofit manager, and they’ll likely say that having a creative and innovative team of employees is essential for success. However, constructing an environment that fosters these crucial skills can be easier said than done. In order to encourage employees to take that dive and bring new ideas to the table, a manager should focus on the following steps.
People who are afraid to make mistakes are less likely to try out new and innovative ideas, whether that be testing a new technology or making programmatic changes. The way a manager responds to failure can speak volumes to the amount of innovation they’re comfortable with. Instead of reprimanding and punishing, manager should use a mistake as a chance to grow as a company. They can ask an employee what they’ve learned from an experiment that went wrong or a presentation that flopped. They can commend an employee for trying something new instead of berate them for doing poorly. The next time an employee takes a bold risk and it doesn’t pan out (as long as it hasn’t jeopardized the company), they should be cheered and not jeered. This way, whenever someone else has the hint of a new idea, they won’t fear failure but rather view it as a way to improve.
Get Outside – or Outside the Box
Staff meetings in the conference room or lengthy phone calls are a thing of the past. If a business wants to foster growth and innovation, it needs to embrace the new work culture of flexibility and remote technologies. Some employees may feel stifled in an office setting. Why not hold that brainstorming session during a walking meeting, where employees can benefit from the creative perk of being outside in nature? Other employees may work best remotely, at a coffee shop, or during the early hours of the morning. A manager could consider amending their policies on working from home or having a strict 9-5 schedule. It’s no longer necessary to go with the flow in this modern age. In fact, it’s necessary to increase flow by trying new strategies that really foster innovation.
It’s been long and widely acknowledged that positive relationships are the key to both professional success and personal happiness. Through fostering a sense of community at an organization, companies can create a feeling of family that can lift one another and guide each other through the hard times. What safer way to attempt innovation than when surrounded by a supportive team? To foster a sense of community at a workplace, a manager should encourage open doors and face-to-face communication. Things like weekly shared meals, team icebreakers, social off-the-clock outings, and easy ways for staff to commend and acknowledge one another (think “thank you cards” in the break room) can also go a long way to making a workplace feel more like a safe space.
Creativity and innovation are crucial to the long term success of any company. Crafting a work environment that encourages and fosters innovation doesn’t need to be difficult. By making small changes, a company can become a place where everyone feels able to fail, where employees with diverse needs are supported, and where the staff feels like a family that can lift one another (and their ideas) up.
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