5 ways to create a culture of innovation | So Good News
opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors themselves.
In today’s business climate, innovation is more than words. It is a necessity for any business that wants to be competitive. In its June 2020 Innovation in Crisis report, McKinsey found that 90% of executives believe the COVID-19 crisis will fundamentally change the way they do business in the next five years. However, only 21% reported having the experience, commitment and resources to implement the necessary changes.
Although the crisis has passed, forward-thinking leaders need to understand how to prepare for the next crisis by innovating their corporate culture today.
Related: Your company needs an innovative culture, not an innovative team
1. Empowerment of employees
In an innovative culture, employees believe that all ideas are important and are carefully considered by management. To create such a culture, management must be active. Employee-empowering cultures recognize employee contributions, even for simple ideas, welcome input when appropriate, and reward risk-taking even when the results are not as expected.
While leadership actions set the tone, remember that employees typically interact with their supervisors on a day-to-day basis. Employees will not come up with innovative ideas if they fear failure or the team leader’s reaction. With this in mind, managers should be trained to receive and implement feedback, create a supportive environment, and encourage employee growth.
Related: 5 Ways to Empower Your Employees
2. Embrace a culture of excellence
Because learning and innovation go hand in hand, teaching employees new ways to perform their tasks encourages innovation. The concept of skill development describes a culture that develops the capabilities and employability of employees by imparting the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to improve employee performance. Identify the key skills employees need to remain competitive, create training programs and support employees to learn alongside their regular responsibilities.
In addition to building goodwill among employees, skill development promotes innovation and technological adaptation. According to PWC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey, more than half of the CEOs of the most advanced organizations agreed that their skills development programs lead to greater innovation and accelerate digital transformation. In the same PWC survey, only 15% of CEOs of professional development organizations said the same.
This means that a successful culture of professional development requires long-term thinking and ensures incremental returns over time. Understand that the benefits of professional development may not be immediate and be patient.
Related: The Best Kept Secret to Fostering Creativity and Innovation
3. Adapt quickly to a change in leadership
Businesses must be flexible to innovate successfully. While following policies and procedures remain key to company values, leaders must exercise caution, but must act quickly in response to changing circumstances. Whether that change is a new employee idea or a major global event, innovation thrives in a culture where employees believe their organization can evolve.
In addition to economic trends, digital transformation has reinforced the importance of adapting to new skills and technologies. Organizations need to keep up with industry developments and act quickly to access advanced tools to improve productivity. By automating time-consuming tasks, employees have more time to brainstorm, collaborate, and innovate.
Few things change overnight, so businesses need to embrace trend monitoring and expert consensus over conventional thinking and avoid complacency. Major changes take time and effort to ingrain into a company’s culture, so preparation and planning are essential to staying ahead. Build comfort with change at the employee level by encouraging cross-departmental collaboration, implementing rotational positions, and reducing burnout so employees can adapt.
4. Give constructive feedback
Innovation doesn’t usually happen by lightning. Rather, innovation occurs when employees receive feedback on the spot, which prompts them to come up with creative solutions. To give effective feedback, focus on the idea, not the individual presentation, and be specific, timely, and honest.
When it comes to constructive criticism, management and managers may be hesitant to speak the truth. However, a culture of innovation begins with a growth mindset at all levels of the organization. If management adopts a stance of continuous improvement, mixes constructive criticism with validation of quality work, and welcomes employee feedback on corporate policies, employees will accept constructive criticism.
Don’t forget to share your positive comments and suggestions for improvement or risk exclusion groups. A LinkedIn survey found that 69% of workers would work harder if their efforts were better recognized. If employees cannot value their ideas, they will struggle to find the motivation to successfully innovate.
5. Encourage open communication
Lines of communication must be open between leadership and the workforce, and among the workers themselves, so that employees can exchange ideas. Internal and external communications should have a consistent tone that celebrates initiative and innovation. Likewise, leadership must be open about successful ideas and note the initiative about frustrations and results. For employees, communication workshops facilitate better conversations and teach teams how to solve problems systematically.
Open communication increases the likelihood of successful ideas. After a change, successful or otherwise, convene teams to evaluate what went well and what could have gone more smoothly. The more comfortable the employees feel about the relationship, the more realistic and effective the analysis. Use this analysis to improve future innovations.
Businesses that want to foster innovation must adopt an approach that empowers employees, values agility, emphasizes a growth mindset, and prioritizes open communication. In this way, leaders can prepare for the future and build resilience to the next crisis.
Related: 6 Communication Tips to Strengthen Your Company Culture