With the upheaval and instability that the world has seen over the past year, with a global pandemic, political changes, financial uncertainty, and social unrest, it’s a hard time to be an entrepreneur in many ways. To survive and thrive during challenging periods such as this, business owners must find ways to innovate and make an impact.
You can’t do this alone, though, and need to get your whole team on-board. However, many employees, if not encouraged properly, end up afraid to get truly creative.
Step To Inspire Outside The Box Thinking
As a leader, you must take steps to motivate people to think outside the box.
Communicate Your Vision Clearly
Be sure to communicate your vision clearly to your employees. You may want them to be as innovative as possible, but do they know that?
Do the company values that have been around for a long time support the idea of creativity or oppose them?
It’s vital for everyone working for you to have the same understanding and not be confused by any conflicting communications. Ensure all managers are on board with the same ideas as you, so employees don’t get mixed messages.
Acknowledge and Reward Creative Thinking
Another tip is to make sure you acknowledge and reward creative thinking. Many people are scared to suggest “crazy” ideas supposedly, so you have to encourage them to do so. For instance, setting up an awards system that hands out fun tokens for the zaniest ideas each month will set a light tone and help people see how valued creative thinking is.
Take things a step further by rewarding people with gifts or perks when developing and sharing cool ideas or innovative solutions. For example, stock up on interesting promotional products such as quality engraved pens, helpful USBs, handy water bottles, pretty journals, branded bottles of wine, etc. Or, have gift vouchers or gift cards on hand to give out.
You could also offer perks to those who come up with the cleverest, most out-of-the-box ideas each month, such as an extra day off work, free massages or lunches for a week, or something else that you know will go down a treat.
Focus on Innovative New Ideas Rather than Particular Results
While it’s easier to quantify results, when it comes to encouraging creativity in your workforce, focus on the ideas people come up with rather than only suggestions that end up producing positive results.
If you’re too results-focused when it comes to innovation, people will be too scared to suggest things that seem radical and untested, even though they could end up being game-changers long term.
Remember (and remind your team) that even if cool ideas don’t lead to excellent results right away, they can spur other innovations that have significant impacts at some later point.
Enable Workers to Try New Things
It’s hard to think differently when you do the same things and see the same people and environments every day, and don’t change things up often. Many companies get more creativity out of their employees if workers have a chance to try new things. For example, let people spend time in various parts of the business and in numerous jobs, so they get a better overall idea of how everything works as a whole. They’re sure to come up with better ideas as a result.
Also, sometimes combine employees from different teams on projects, so they each bring their own strengths and viewpoints and influence each other for the better. Plus, consider setting up mentoring programs, including those run externally where team members learn from people in other organizations. This wider exposure helps staff members to get new perspectives they can bring back to your business.
Furthermore, bring in outside help whenever needed. Hire motivational speakers and consultants who are experts in niche areas or even in creativity itself to shake things up.
Lead by Example
Something else to consider is if you’re leading by example and showing your team how important innovation is.
Do you take steps to try new things yourself, even if they might fail?
Do you seek outside perspectives, look for problems to solve, and utilize helpful techniques such as constructive brainstorming and working with constraints to prompt more diverse ideas?
If not, it’s time to set the right tone for the company.
Encouraging your teams to develop a habit of being creative takes time and commitment. However, if you keep at it, the return on investment is sure to be incredibly long term. Have patience and trust your team until you get there.