Money and time invested in innovation are wasted if your employees aren’t ready or willing to get on board.
Forced change isn’t always fun and certainly not always necessary. So how do you motivate your employees to accept or even get involved with your process improvement and innovation initiatives?
Tell your employees what’s up. Provide some transparency by explaining the current state of things, the changes you’re looking to make, and how they can get involved to make operations and the environment better for everyone company-wide.
Give your employees direction by getting them to think about specific challenges and questions you’re looking to solve. Don’t limit participation. Let the marketing department share ideas for cost-cutting, the production floor for service offerings, and sales for logistics.
If you’ve managed to get your employees thinking and talking, give them the time and tools they need to share their ideas, collaborate to improve them, and get them in front of decision-makers. Whether through a lowly suggestion box, innovation management software, or brainstorming sessions, ideas need to be shared and nurtured.
Providing employees with both positive and negative feedback on their ideas and perspectives is an important part of keeping them engaged and thinking. They’ll know someone is listening to them. They’ll get approval or suggestions for improvement on their ideas, and learn what work still has to be done to see their ideas come to life.
Sometimes people need a little incentive to participate in a new or additional undertaking. Offering rewards like gift cards, time off, or raises are an effective means to boost engagement in your innovation programs. For even deeper engagement, provide opportunities for employees to play a larger role in the development of their ideas as a supervisor, doing interviews with coworkers or customers, or working on case studies.
Staying transparent and providing feedback will be a strong motivator for employees, but they demand action. Failure to commit to development and bringing their ideas and contributions to life shows a lack of dedication to your initiatives, and can cause more harm than good in the long-run.
Don’t let your innovation efforts be a one-time thing. Just like taking action on the ideas your employees come up with, real engagement in your innovation program relies on dedication to continuous improvement. Kick-off your efforts with a challenge event to generate initial excitement, but keep it going to keep morale high, minds fresh, and creative ideas flowing.
How engaged are your employees in innovation?
Struggling with any steps above? Which steps are missing?
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