How many ideas never make the light of day because of the fear of feeling or being vulnerable? Too many! Too many lost opportunities and the opportunity cost is significant.
Have you had an idea that you didn’t share or implement just to see someone else had subsequently brought that same idea into a reality?
The fear of losing face, of looking bad, of failure… are the biggest inhibitors of innovation – particularly in the workplace.
If you were to ask yourself…
Is my business environment, my business culture, conducive to idea sharing?
And would everyone (and I mean every one) in my organisation feel comfortable sharing an idea?
… would anything need to change?
If you want to increase ownership of innovative change then encourage and progress the initiatives of your team. If you want more ideas from your team about how to be an even better business – then progress their suggestions. Create a safe, non-threatening environment in which to share.
You have to walk the talk – if you say you want ideas then embrace them, act on them, share the value added as a result of the implementation and give credit to the initiator always.
People believe what they see – so, if the team see an idea being dismissed with off-hand comments such as:
- We’ve had that one before;
- That would cost way too much; or
- That won’t work here,
then they will be less inclined to contribute again – they will believe that their ideas are not appreciated, and that they may lose face in front of their peers – it won’t matter that your published values around innovation say otherwise.
One of the reasons given for not making a contribution to innovation in an organisation, is the belief that nothing will happen anyway, that it is all just a waste of time. If you agree to implement an idea because it will add value to your organisation, then make sure that it happens and without delay.
If you as a leader have an idea, share it for comment, feedback, improvement, and brainstorming – that way your team knows that you are willing to share and that their contribution to build on the initiative is valued. This process speaks clearly to your culture and is a powerful way to enhance the teams’ ownership of proposed changes.
Innovation must be integral to the way we do business and there is a huge bank of intellect right there in our people, which, if left untapped, is a total waste. So, leverage off your intellectual capital by creating a “how can we do it even better” culture in your organisation.
BY BUILDING ON THE NATURAL TALENTS OF YOUR TEAM
Millions have been spent by companies on training and developing their employees to increase skill levels, improve effectiveness and encourage innovation. In order to achieve the very best return on the money and time invested in training, leaders must firstly, be clear on what the natural talents of their employees are… that is, they must know the strengths each team member brings to their role in the organisation.
And then consider… how to best build on those natural talents to further enhance the business performance?
Lifting an ability to perform a task from low to medium will increase productivity, but lifting an ability to perform a task from naturally good to great will have a far greater impact. This is how the successful businesses go about maximising their return on investment in training and development.
Team performance assessments generally identify and highlight weaknesses and then the training and development programs are focused on those weaknesses. Yes, the skills and abilities of team members may improve incrementally, however, not everyone will excel at a particular task, regardless of the training and effort invested. Those people who achieve high levels of excellence in a given task do so because they are naturally inclined to perform the task at a high standard in the first place.
Businesses that want to boost productivity and innovation must help their employees apply their natural abilities on a day to day basis.
Leaders who have developed organisational cultures which support a strength-based approach to employee development have reaped the rewards.
How well are you leveraging off the strengths of your team…
- Do you have the systems in place to identify the attributes exhibited by your best performers – those talents or strengths which have contributed to their success?
- Does your system enable you integrate this knowledge into your HR plan, career development and recruitment process so that you have the right people with the right talents in the right roles in your organisation.
- Can you readily identify which employee has the requisite talent to excel at a particular task?
- Do the tasks in the job description match the strengths of the incumbent in the role?
- Are you providing your star employees with the opportunities and tools to grow in their roles – to go from good to great?
Training and developing the right people for the right roles is far more productive than training the wrong people for the wrong job.
And what’s more… the passion index is so much higher when people are using their natural talents – they are more engaged and committed. Very different to struggling daily with a task which they find difficult and unrewarding.
Change the focus – identify your individual team members’ natural strengths and build on those. It is a different mindset which creates a more positive culture – a culture that celebrates natural talents rather than focusing on apparent weaknesses.
At Opening Gates, our TEAM COLLABORATIVE and PRODUCTIVITY by DESIGN workshops provide the training tools and concepts required to increase productivity and profitability by leveraging off the talent you already have in your team.
Strong relationships are the cornerstone of every growing and successful business.
If we neglect to build relationships with our customers or our potential customers (our prospects) then we will become a transaction and commodities based business – and that puts us squarely in a highly competitive, often price driven, short term frenetic market.
Building relationships increases your customers’ loyalty to you and your brand and they are more likely to go out and promote you to others – to be an advocate for your business. This is how momentum is built.
Warning: Once you start building and nurturing relationships don’t stop! It must be a way of business.
Perceived indifference is one of the most common reasons given for customers stopping doing business with a supplier. Inconsistent ad hoc contact will not build strong relationships which create loyalty. What it will create is a state of confusion.
The Key: Build relationships based on authenticity – do it because you believe you can make a positive difference – be genuine – add value.
Understand the opportunities to engage with your customers across the buying and delivery process – and then afterwards – what happens after the sale?
Develop a clear system around the touch points in your business – when will you make contact and how often? This contact does not need to be face to face – it can be a phone call, an email, a gift, an event. Neither does it need to be made by the same person – everyone in the organisation has a role to play in building and nurturing the relationships with customers.
- Hold a TEAM COLLABORATIVE – an innovative session that focuses on building customer relationships by upgrading the experience the customer or prospect has when interacting with your business. Involve everyone – those on the front line will have a different perspective to those in the back end.
- Ask your customers what they want – hold a CUSTOMER COLLABORATIVE – A work shop with selected customers to get a clearer idea of how your business looks from their perspective and what could be done to improve their experience.
It is the unique relationship that a customer has with you and your team which is your point of difference – your unique selling proposition. It is the one thing that your competitors cannot say that they have.