Encouraging Employee Innovation

 

  Let’s be honest here, while you’re focusing on all big picture items, your employees are on the front lines of your business. They see daily what’s working and identify where there can be improvements or changes. Harness the energy of these junior and mid-level employees to identify these issues while allowing them the opportunity to make suggestions. Innovation does not need to equate to blowing out the budget, but it can unearth some things that you did not know were even an issue. 

Give your employees an outlet to feel comfortable relaying what they believe can be improved upon. Before letting your employees run wild with ideas, first set up some parameters. One of the most important parameters to set is that ideas must be scalable. Many projects can be one-off solutions, but may not help the advancement of your business. Depending on the size of your business, all of your employees submitting ideas directly to you may not be feasible. Set one gatekeeper in each department to allow only full plans to make it to your desk. Not only does this allow you to stay focused on everything you need to accomplish, but it now offers a new leadership role for members of your staff. 

Incentivizing employees for their great innovative ideas can ensure the wheels will always stay turning. Google, a company that has been built on employee innovation, was one of the first to allow employees the freedom to explore. While many companies may not have resources like Google, which allows employees to spend 20% of their workweek on a project that interests them, but as a leader, if your employee has an idea that will benefit the company you should support them. Once the employee has all of the cards aligned, put them in charge of implementing the innovation plan. Giving employees the chance to show responsibility will motivate your employees to really put their all into the projects and a chance to show off their abilities. 

The more you encourage new ideas, the more it will become ingrained into your company culture. It will attract like-minded, motivated employees with new ideas of their own! As a CEO and a leader, innovation should be viewed as more than just a buzzword, it is what will keep your company alive even longer than you.