Stagnancy has been the death of many companies. It can be easy to fall into the rut of, “this is how we do things, because this is how things have always been done.” In order to stay competitive, organizations need to consistently be asking themselves whether there is a better or more efficient way to do something.
But remember that these great ideas to streamline procedures and save money will not always come from the top managers or board of directors. They are just as likely – if not more likely – to come from the employees that are actually doing the hands-on, day-to-day work. That being the case, you should be encouraging your employees to think creatively and feel a sense of ownership over the process. Here are some ideas to get you started:
As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. This may be easier or more difficult depending on your particular business, but – as much as you are able to – try to pair up employees to tackle a project together. Or, at the very least, facilitate a team discussion at the kick-off of a new assignment so that employees have the chance to ask questions and weigh in with any ideas or past experience.
Break the routine
It should come as no surprise to hear that, when we follow the same routine day in and day out, our creative juices can quickly run dry. If you want to facilitate new thinking, then you need to switch up the environment. This keeps the brain active and can allow your employees to consider perspectives that they would not have been able to otherwise. Again, this will depend on your individual company, but try to hold meetings outside or in new places to help keep your team engaged.
Another idea is to set up regular mini-presentations that allows your employees to share an experience or area of expertise and then open it up for discussion. This is also a great exercise for team building.
Encourage innovative thinking
If you want your employees to be sharing their ideas and actively contributing to the improvement of your company, then they need to know that their thoughts are welcome. If someone comes up with a way to cut down on costs or increase efficiency, call them out to the group. Recognition and a public display of appreciation is a great motivator. And regardless of whether or not you move forward with the idea, it demonstrates that you are open and receptive to your team’s thoughts.
Create a flexible process
Of course, you do not want to be constantly interrupted with half-baked thoughts and completely off-topic ideas. You can help direct your team’s creative prowess by focusing their attention on a particular process that you would like to be improved. Basically, you can solicit a call for ideas around a specific topic and clearly state what criteria should be included in a plan. Consider even offering a reward for the best idea or one that is chosen for implementation. A bit of competition can be a great catalyst for innovation.