Are you making the most of creative innovators in your organization?
Innovation is essential to getting ahead, especially in a tight employment market. HR can help create a culture of innovation and encourage employees to be visionaries and problem solvers. This process starts with brainstorming, but it doesn’t end with a good idea. Innovation is a process that starts with people asking “what if?” and moves on to involve planning, developing, testing, changing, retesting, and—yes—sometimes failure. In the end, though, innovation results in better systems, products, materials, and tools that make improve work and life. So now that you understand the innovation process, what’s next?
Hire for innovation. Seek job candidates with soft skills associated with creativity—such as problem-solving, collaboration, flexibility, and communication. To identify these candidates, consider interview questions that uncover whether candidates have ever come up with a great idea and what happened with it.
Have an innovation space. Consider a dedicated area where people can focus on innovation, without being interrupted by phone calls and emails, and interact with other innovators. This should be a comfortable workspace with couches, comfortable chairs, and tables, as well as tools such as whiteboards, smartboards, and tablets.
Make time. To get the innovation started, set aside a specific time when your innovators will address a specific problem. Post the problem on bulletin boards in break rooms and other areas to give all creative employees an opportunity to have input on solutions and share ideas.
Put leaders in an innovative mindset. Train managers and executives on topics such as creative problem-solving, listening skills, and change management. Help them to understand that innovation may involve failures and that it’s okay to fail and try again in the innovation space. At the same time, give them a way to measure innovation. Use tools such as real-time dashboards that enable them to track progress and identify where changes or retooling may be necessary.
Get everyone involved. Realize that some of the best solutions may come from those people closest to the problems. To encourage/invite input, urge people to submit ideas via digital suggestion boxes or other means. Invite employees at all levels to participate in innovation projects or share their ideas with team members working on innovations. Give staff opportunities to participate in innovation-related training programs and activities. Encourage anyone who wants to be an innovator to pursue that opportunity.
Break down siloes, share stories. Encourage collaboration across departments and buildings by offering job rotations, internal internships, and innovation “vacations” where workers can schedule time off from their jobs to participate in innovation projects. Have employees share their own innovation success stories to inspire creativity.
Tie innovation to performance. Include employees’ innovation efforts in their performance reviews. Evaluate how much employees think creatively, accept new ways of doing things, and adapt to change.