If You Want a Collaborative and Innovative Organization… Start HERE!
Have you been in business for a long time? Do you overhear comments from your employees like these: “We have always done it this way”, “We tried that before”, “That’s not how we do things here”, “I am afraid it won’t work” or even “That will cost too much”? Have you also noticed that your employees don’t know how to answer questions like “What do our customers expect from us?” or “What do our customers think of our products?”
- TRUST YOUR EMPLOYEES: Trust is a powerful word but can be scary at times because if you install your trust in others, it could feel as if you are either less in control or less in touch with what is going on. Don’t believe this. Start by trusting yourself as a leader who has hired and trained the right people. If you can do this unequivocally, then empowering them to make decisions will be much easier.
- EMPOWER YOUR EMPLOYEES: Now that you trust your employees – empower them to own their responsibilities and their relationship with your customers. Empower them to make decisions. Empower them to work directly with customers to meet their needs. This needs to apply to all levels of the organization from your executive team to your call center reps! The more employees feel empowered, the more ownership they will take and the more likely they are to take initiative and start thinking out-of-the-box to move the business forward.
- BE BOTH VISIBLE & APPROACHABLE: Lots of executives say they have an open door policy but saying it and living it are two different things. First – you should actually keep your door open! Find time every day to walk through the work area. This is not face time. This should be productive time. Stop and talk with the search marketing team or pop into the creative studio to ask what they are working on, look at it with them and provide some helpful feedback. Walking through your company needs to be interactive to be effective and over time will help your team feel that they can approach you about new ideas or initiatives.
- ENCOURAGE FAILURE: It is important to understand that nobody is ever right all of the time and that many of life’s most important lessons come from failed attempts and projects. Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that don’t work” when talking about inventing the light bulb. As important as it is to encourage failure, it is just as important to not punish failure. When a program, test or new idea does not pan out, it’s more constructive when the discussion is about what we learned from it and how it can inform what we do next. This is easier said than done when a mistake can impact your business negatively. However, the more you demonstrate that people can make mistakes without fear of retribution, the more positive your interactions will be.
- INNOVATION IS NOT JUST “PRODUCT INNOVATION”: Innovation is most often associated with new products. However, innovation applies to every aspect of business… whether it be marketing, technology, or the guidelines you set for customer experience Innovation should be a “way of life” for running a business not a “definition” associated with creating new products. Make sure everyone understands and builds goals around this way of thinking.