When it comes to creating innovative teams, saying and doing are different things. We went straight to the source and asked one expert to reveal his top insights.
As an owner of a growing business, I know how important it is to create the sort of environment and culture that embraces and supports an innovative team. Why? Because if your business doesn’t change and grow, it dies. And you need employees to be innovators in order to make that change and growth happen.
So how do you encourage innovation among employees and foster an innovative team?
1. Make mistakes
If you’re not making mistakes, I can guarantee you’re not innovating. And if your employees are too afraid to experiment or work outside their comfort zone, then they are not going to be able to innovate.
In order to foster an innovative team you need to create a work culture where people aren’t afraid to make mistakes. This often requires a new way of thinking so that people are encouraged to take more risks and push boundaries.
2. Put rebels on a pedestal
People who aren’t flexible, are highly compliant, and can’t handle making mistakes or failing don’t make great innovators. For sure, there is a need for these types of people in a business, but they don’t belong in areas where you want to see innovation happen.
Publicly reward those who go against the grain in your business, who voice a different opinion or challenge the status quo. You want people to ask why things are done the way they are, and if they could be done better. It’s important to make room for new ideas in order to keep your business growing and by recognising these rebels you’ll encourage other employees to think and act differently too.
3. Take one for the team
Innovators need good leaders that will give them the time and space to experiment and get things wrong. This is actually a really hard thing to do because a lot of the time, innovators need protection and cover, which means finding a leader that is happy to take responsibility for someone else’s mistakes – and lots of them.
Leaders of innovative teams don’t necessarily need to be innovators themselves, but they need to be able to trust their team to deliver, providing them with support but not attempting to control them.
4. Fight the fear
An innovative culture is a necessity for a successful, growing business. You can encourage incremental growth by supporting innovative employees within their areas of expertise. It’s important to work hard to fight a natural fear of loss or resistance to change, because it will slow your company down. The best way to combat this fear is to encourage and support the innovators in your organisation. It’s contagious.