Are your company brainstorming sessions met with crickets? Are your open discussions stifled with silence? Maybe the company has gotten stuck in a rut, but no one seems to have any ideas of how to escape, or maybe you just feel like you’re pulling teeth out there trying to get any of your employees to give actionable feedback?
What’s the problem? Well, it could be the culture that’s been created in your company.
What’s your company culture like?
Whether you are aware of it or not, company leaders might be perpetuating a toxic workplace culture or one where your employees feel stifled, not inspired. The leaders of a company, including senior HR staff, set a tone throughout a company that is heard loud and clear by your employees.
So think about it… what tone are your employees hearing from you? Is yours a frantic or friendly tone? One of frustration or one of fellowship? Do you take time off or take no mercy? Are employees feeling burned out, chewed up, or fired up? Are your demands so high that it keeps your employee’s spirits incredibly low?
What can you do about it?
When facing a lack of innovation among the staff, there are three important shifts in mindset and practice to consider. Incorporating these three strategies in your overall workplace culture, plus continually promoting and practicing them with your staff, can have an enormous impact on employee innovation and overall morale…and your bottom line.
1) Support risk-taking
The first risk you should take is to collect a very honest inventory of your current situation. An anonymous staff survey or workplace evaluation could give you insight into some major problems simmering beneath the surface. Why is this risky? Well, the truth ain’t always pretty or polite. Be sure to put on your thickest skin and keep your mind open. And then, follow through. Maybe the anonymous suggestion for a pet-friendly office seems crazy — go ahead and try it, even just for a short time, and let the results speak for themselves. TellZen 3C Framework: Continuous Confidential Conversation allows for real-time employee engagement in the feedback process that is interactive and confidential so you can receive their honest insights.
It’s always nerve-wracking to share a new idea with others when you don’t know how your idea will be received. Sure, it might be a solid plan in your head but once it hits other human ears, humiliation is a simple snort or giggle away. So throw out bad ideas to the group and watch them chop it down. It’s okay. You knew the idea wasn’t very good anyway. Let employees see that it’s okay to proffer unique perspectives or unexpected twists, and even if they aren’t ideal, they are a step along the way to finding the right fit.
Once employees see that sharing out all ideas is the first step to finding the best ideas and that the workplace is a safe environment to take those chances without ridicule, you might be surprised at the new innovative plans or schemes that have, until now, been lurking beneath the surface.
Not quite there yet? Then try an interactive mobile communication platform, such as TellZen, where employees can voice their ideas, share opinions and feedback, provide training, and offer peer recognition in a psychologically safe space. TellZen3C Framework: Continuous Confidential Conversation opens up the lines of communication where they might still be closed and allow you to hear from every voice in your company.
2) Embrace mistakes
Many employees hold their breaths each day thinking they are just one minor mistake away from being headed out the door for good. Working in that kind of mind frame not only has effects on productivity but the constant pressure seriously hinders any chance for innovation or divergent thinking.
So, show some compassion. Show flexibility and adaptability. You didn’t hire them because they could already do the job perfectly; you knew there would be at least some training involved in every hire. Remember that you also hired human beings, who are fraught with individual situations, varying home lives, mental health issues, personality quirks, bad habits, and sore spots.
This is not to say you should excuse poor employees who are woefully inept, unethical, or egregiously irresponsible. It just means a change in mindset — see every mistake, big or small, as a learning opportunity for all parties involved. Show your employees that one screw-up is not the end of the world and that mistakes are not only normal but expected. And then, show them how to gracefully correct their mistakes to ensure they don’t happen again. Furthermore, provide peer mentor support through TellZen’s platform where employees can receive accolades and actionable feedback on their work.
When employees are encouraged to take risks and know that a mistake won’t be the end of their careers, they will be far more comfortable to share and try new ideas that might benefit the company and the bottom line.
3) Promote learning
While every mishap that occurs presents learning opportunities, the chances to learn a new skill, technique, or concept don’t stop there. Create a workplace culture that prizes education above all else, whether it’s informal or formal.
This could be through various methods — requiring a certain number of college credit hours each year, allowing them to attend professional conferences, incentivizing online certifications, encouraging interdisciplinary observations and shadowing, or hosting planned in-house workshops or impromptu open-floors for collaborating.
Promoting the education of your employees is a win-win: offering your employees chances to widen their skill set makes them feel appreciated and respected as professionals, and you, as their employer or HR staff, set to benefit from their new knowledge or training, too. Highly-trained employees result in a more lucrative business with a higher reputation, attracting clients and job-seekers alike.
TellZen’s interactive platform provides an opportunity for employees to engage with and learn from each other by providing advice and encouragement. Plus, it’s perfect for onboarding and training programs, sending newsletters, managing reward programs, and providing actionable feedback on all their hard work.
By demonstrating and living by these three guidelines, your staff will feel more comfortable and more prepared to offer up their innovative strategies and fresh ideas without fearing a humiliating fall from grace. Building a workplace culture that supports taking (calculated) risks, accepting failure, and promotes continual learning will provide a great solid foundation for your most creative employees to stand on and see even more possibilities.
By using TellZen in your company, employees remain engaged, feel trusted and heard, and will stick by their you, their employer, bringing all their great ideas along with them.
To learn more about Tellzen’s confidential employee engagement platform we offer a free demonstration and a Free Anonymous Employee Survey using the TellZen system. Please mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (617) 571-4609.