Thursday, 27 October 2016

Four Ideas for Promoting Innovation In The Workplace

By Cristiane Namiuti
Innovation in the workplace is often stifled by a desire to see productivity increase above all else, which can lead to creative individuals feeling as though their contributions are not appreciated. To avoid this situation, companies need to actively promote innovative thought. Here are some tips on how to do that:

Engage Employees
If employees do not feel connected to their places of work, they are less likely to commit time to coming up with new ideas that may benefit their companies. To counter this, companies need to keep their employees informed about the latest developments, whether this involves changes in internal structures or new products that are going to be soon introduced to the public. By encouraging active participation and employee engagement, businesses can gain access to ideas that their specific teams may not have considered.

Many companies incentivize high performance in what are considered practical areas. This is most commonly seen in the sales environment, where salespeople are rewarded based on the volume or quality of their sales. Similar plans need to be put in place to let creative thinkers know that they play just as important a role in the company. By offering incentives, such as internal recognition for creative thinking, companies give employees more reason to think outside the norm. A key component of this is that businesses should also avoid punishing people for ideas that don’t take off. Not every new concept will be a winner and punishing those that fail discourages an innovative work environment.

Accept Risk
To follow on from that previous point, companies must recognize that risk will always be attached to innovation. Trying something new is intimidating, particularly for businesses that have experienced success with established or traditional methods. This can result in a lack of tolerance for new ideas or, more accurately, little tolerance for the risk involved in exploring new concepts. This discourages creative thinkers and may prevent them from introducing new ideas to senior management. The company needs to support help its employees and help them feel confident to explore and present new ideas in spite of the risk of failing. Because as long as everyone can learn from each failure, failure breeds success. As IBM’s Thomas Watson said: “The fastest way to success is to double your failure rate.”

Focus On Action
Innovation is only effective if the company puts plans in place to follow up on the ideas presented. This requires dedicating time and resources to the exploration of new ideas, their feasibility and how they can be implemented so they stay in-line with the business’ brand strategy and marketing goals.

About The Author: Cristiane Namiuti is a brand marketing professional with more than ten years of experience managing consumer brands for companies like Unilever and Bare Escentuals.