For a company to be ahead of the rest in the market, it has to embrace innovation on a continuous basis. When the management continuously communicates and encourages innovation, then the employees embrace it as a company culture.
Therefore, innovation culture is a work environment that the management creates to nurture unusual thinking and its application. An innovation culture appreciates the input of everyone in the organization as agents of innovation. The leadership skills and workplace climate are important factors in determining innovation culture.
Innovation in a company depends on the leadership. Companies who have open minded and innovative leaders often have a strong innovation culture. The leader is responsible for making or breaking an innovation culture. Leaders in an organization hear about an idea first so they determine whether the idea will be implemented or not.
As a good leader, you should realize your importance in establishing and maintaining an innovation culture. To instill an innovation culture, repeat and explain you message on innovation in the company.
Leadership behaviors that discourage innovation include;
- Dismissing ideas from your employees without good reasons.
- Failing to encourage your employees to give new ideas.
- Being negative such that when employees present their ideas, you always look for a negative aspect of the idea and openly shoot down their ideas.
- Giving conflicting messages; requesting employees to come up with new ideas while at the same time pushing them to focus on short-term goals.
As a good leader, you should weigh every idea presented, but you are not expected to accept all the ideas. If an idea is not appropriate, get back to the employees in a respectful manner so that they keep coming up with innovative ideas.
To increase innovation, allow your employees to have unstructured time to experiment and explore new ideas. This time, can also be used to network with others for the purpose of generating ideas. After the unstructured time, the employees are required to come up with an idea.
As a way of showing appreciation for your employees’ innovation, you could come up with a reward system. The rewards can be ‘worthless’ or ‘money worth.’ ‘Worthless’ rewards are rewards that encourage the employees to be innovative but the workers do not earn any value from them.
For example, employees can receive wooden medals when they perform the best in an area. When someone else performs better, the medal is transferred to the new performer. You can also give your employees awards with monetary value.
Workplace climate is how things are done in a work environment. It includes the norms, behaviors, attitudes, feelings and values that people in the organization hold. Some of the ideas for a workplace that emphasizes innovation include;
- Overcoming failures: Failure is discouraging especially if it leads to a monetary loss in an organization. When you implement an idea then it fails to work, treat it as a learning lesson. Your reaction to the failure will determine how the company will take the failure. Look at the failure as a glitch; a learning experience which will guide your next strategy. Where failure is viewed as a glitch, employees feel free to give ideas.
- Innovation from everyone: It is the responsibility of all employees to come up with innovative ideas. You as the leader are responsible for communicating and encouraging innovation from everyone. For example, make time to visit the employees at their work station and listen to their view on certain issues. When employees feel that they are a valuable asset in the company, they will strive to make the company better.