Employee creativity and innovation are essential for the success of any business, particularly in times of economic turmoil. Engaged employees are more creative and more willing to accept innovative ideas from others. Most CEOs value creativity, and employees who are allowed to be creative are more engaged with their current positions. A companys’ culture can either foster or stifle innovation. Fortunately, business leaders are able to shape a more creative work environment, here are a few ways to foster an innovative culture.
- Vision and core business values sets the tone
Innovation starts with the leadership qualities of the founder and CEO. Research found that nearly all entrepreneurs had similar qualities – they were passionate about their work, had a positive and optimistic outlook, do not allow setbacks to hinder their drive and vision, are forward thinkers, determined, thrive on difference and change; surround themselves with like-minded individuals, concentrate on team culture, learn from their mistakes, and aim to resolve problems quickly.
Entrepreneurs make sure they share the long term vision with everyone in the company and that they have a clear business mission that is innovative.
- Organizational culture is key
Entrepreneurs have distinctive culture that are reflected in their recruitment practices, an emphasis on training and learning, and an astute awareness of the importance of a functional working environment. By creating a strong organizational culture, they devolve power down to employees to innovate. Employees are encouraged to think outside the box. Moreover, employees help to chart the direction of the firm, business units have a well-defined vision, and staff are empowered and rewarded for their performance.
- Take a team approach
Once they have the vision set and the organizational culture in place, they establish a team approach to innovation. Entrepreneurs report that they are establishing teams as a platform to share information and provide members with a sense of ownership and camaraderie. The teams are encourages to have regular team meetings for reviewing processes and projects. They are encouraged to question traditional methods and embrace new technologies and marketing initiatives.
- Encourage open communication
Entrepreneurs ensure that there is communication, both top-down and bottom-up. They encourage informal feedback during projects and formal feedback at the completion of assignments. They also seek views and feedback on new ideas, and work towards implementing sound ideas. They welcome free speech, debate, and open contribution about any subject from team members.
Some use business coaches to assist with creative thinking and product development. Others offer regular training programs, which exposes staff to new ideas and knowledge and encourages innovation.