Innovation in the workplace is something that every business and every leader should encourage in order to stay competitive in its market. Any business which is not continually improving on its product lines, and how it produces those products, is in serious danger of being left behind by competitors. All the most successful business leaders understand that they need to be constantly searching for ways to improve product benefits to customers, while streamlining the operations necessary to create them.
The best leaders also understand that the ideas for this kind of innovation in the workplace need to come from the people who are closest to the products, i.e. employees. Here are five ways that you can encourage real innovation in the workplace from your employees, to keep your business competitive and thriving.
No idea is a bad one
If you really want to encourage the maximum volume of innovative ideas from your employees, you have to make it clear to them that no ideas are bad ones, and that all will be fairly considered. Employees have to be comfortable with the fact that they will not be criticized for suggesting an idea, or vilified if it turns out badly when tested. One great way to communicate this to your staffers is to tell them about some of your failed ideas, so they can be comfortable with the fact that their own suggestions will be risk-free.
Establish continual improvement as a core value
Continual improvement should not be treated as lip service by you or by your employees. In fact, it should be formalized into a company vision or mission statement, so that the attitude pervades the entire company, and employees begin to incorporate it as part of their own mindset.
Make sure you recognize any ideas offered by staffers which turn out to be legitimate improvements. All employees like to feel recognized and rewarded for their efforts, and all it takes is mentioning them at a meeting or in the company newsletter, in order to ensure that similar behavior is encouraged throughout the company. It might also be a good idea to offer some kind of monetary reward, or perhaps an award of some company products.
Encourage out-of-the-box thinking
Some of the best ideas for innovation come from workplace employees who are looking at operations and products from a totally different angle than is traditional. Given the fact that there’s always more than a single way to address any issue or solve any problem, it’s definitely worth promoting alternative viewpoints, because they just might be solid gold when executed.
Inspire all to participate
It’s a known fact that only about 20% of all innovative ideas in business come from managers and executives, while the remaining 80% are directly attributable to employee contributions. This being so, you should do whatever it takes to inspire everyone to participate, because that one person in the workplace whom you go out of your way to reach, just might be the person with the next great innovation.
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