Innovation in the workplace can be a valuable tool to overcome changes in your industry and environment. With innovation comes trial and error, occasionally resulting in unexpected negative outcomes. In my experience, the best way to embrace and encourage innovation is by creating a “safe to fail” culture, where all team members can feel comfortable being creative without the fear of blame or repercussions if they aren’t successful.
TOP DOWN APPROACH
As with any culture change implementations, changes must come from the top; leaders set positive examples to achieve buy in from their team. When faced with an error or failure, rather than asking who caused the error, I prefer to question how and why the error came about, followed by a plan for improvement to ensure better future results. By shifting the focus of the discussion from blame to generating a learning opportunity, team members can feel valued for their contribution to the continued improvement of the organisation.
MANAGERS AS COACHES
Positive examples can be drawn from senior leadership, but direct managers are best poised to coach and support their team daily. Invest in coaching skills for leaders, enable them to help their team develop their own strategies rather than advising them on the best course of action. Not only will this empower leaders to delegate more as they gain and build trust and respect with the team, it will also allow for more meaningful performance reviews and goal setting.
EMPOWER TEAM MEMBERS
Allow team members the flexibility for collaboration on tasks, this will show faith in their abilities – after all, they were your successful candidate for a reason! When things don’t go as planned, include team members in the discussion and invite them to help generate ideas for future attempts, show them that their opinions are valued.
EXTERNAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
In addition to upskilling managers and leaders to facilitate coaching effectively, it is wise to provide team members with opportunities to develop their innovation skills. Seek a variety of networking events, seminars, webinars and even suitable trade shows or conferences as options for development. Additionally, seeking a mentor for budding superstars will further enhance their talent in a safe and comfortable environment.
As always, remember to celebrate the positives and reinforce achievements where possible. Strong and happy teams support each other and champion the organisation’s values, which will reflect positively on the brand amongst stakeholders.