There are very few workplaces that I know of where the manager or team leader believes innovation is unwelcome. In fact, I’m not aware of any. Even in places where consistency is critical to the nature of the work, innovation is still welcome (in theory) when it comes to rethinking the process to ensure maximum efficiency. However, in practice, one of the top complaints we hear from team members, and sometimes managers or team leaders as well, is that new ideas are NOT welcome. Creativity, innovation, and true brainstorming are shut down before they can even begin.
Why does this happen?
There are many reasons, to be sure, but here are a few questions for you to consider. It may help you figure out if there are ways you are unintentionally shutting down the creative possibilities of your team members.
- How do you invite input and new ideas?
Is there intentionality to the process, or do you leave it to people to simply offer ideas? Is it an agenda item at meetings that actually gets discussed, or just an “Any suggestions?” thrown out without any real indication that the responses will be heard and considered?
- What is the culture in your organization around innovation?
Do you use a brainstorming process? Is it one that truly invites all ideas to be evaluated on merit, or one that judges the merit of the person offering the ideas? Is there a “That’s the way we’ve always done it” mentally in your organization, or a true openness to new ideas that encourages innovative thinking?
- How do you credit new ideas once implemented?
Often, employees won’t speak up or offer new ideas if they feel they’ll just be adopted by someone else who will then receive the credit for them. How do you ensure that doesn’t happen in your organization?
Part of what inspires loyalty from employees is making sure they feel their voices are being heard, considered, and appreciated. Even when an idea isn’t ultimately implemented, simply evaluating the idea, considering it, and expressing true appreciation for participating in the process creates a feeling of value for the person offering the idea.
How do you harness innovation in your team?