Innovation Requires Resources
The marketplace is changing so quickly that organizations are forced to innovate or be left behind. There is a lot of research about how organizations are creating cultures of innovation, including how many healthy organizations are developing their ability to be entrepreneurial. There is a strong positive correlation between a firm’s entrepreneurialism and the quality and quantity of innovation.
It is very likely that your organization has innovative employees, yet you may not see a lot of resultant innovation. Why might this be? Research shows that one of the main reasons employees fail to innovate within their organizations is because they can’t get the resources they need to bring their innovative ideas to life.
If you’re not already doing so, you should discuss your employees’ innovative ideas during regular check-ins with them. It is possible to kill great ideas via neglect. Not supporting an innovative idea in the right way can cause its demise. Be aware that your employees will need you to help them get access to the resources they need. As you support your employees in their attempts to bring innovative ideas to life, you will find increases in engagement levels and retention.
Identify Where Resource Needs Are
Keep in mind that employees rarely know how to go out and gather all of the required resources on their own. In many cases, they don’t even feel empowered to seek those resources. Successful leaders are catalysts for helping their employees gather the needed resources. Let’s consider a few types of resources that are frequently needed to bring an innovative idea to life.
Financial - Financial resources are often thought of as the type of resource to which an employee might want access in order to innovate. Organizations often allocate large budgets for major objectives but may neglect smaller innovations. Are there some smaller projects which would benefit from a small budget? If you gave an employee a budget of $300 for the right type of innovation, is it possible that they might come up with a really unique solution? The very possibility of changing the available resources might dramatically affect the result. Consider what innovations might really benefit from a micro-budget.
Expertise – Let me stroke your ego for a moment. You are a brilliant professional and your employees could really benefit from your wisdom. Make time on a regular basis to sit with your employees and talk through their innovation portfolio. During those meeting, always keep a constructive tone but be comfortable challenging your employees’ thoughts and assumptions. Sometimes expertise isn’t about technical solutions to a problem but, instead, about how to navigate challenging political variables within your organization. Roadblocks can come in all shapes and sizes so vigilantly watch for challenges and let your experience smooth the path for your employees.
Connections - Some goals require formal teams of people for successful outcomes. Other goals may not require formal teams but their success could still be enhanced and quickened with some informal external support. Have you introduced your employees to the people in the organization who might be helpful on an informal basis? Is there someone in marketing or accounting whom your employee doesn’t yet know but who could add valuable insights? Do direct managers buy in to what employees are doing? Sending updates to your bosses and asking for their support can also be part of giving your employees the connections they need in order to succeed.
Encouragement – Don’t underestimate the power of encouragement. Your employees need it! Ambiguity, rejection and other roadblocks that stand in the way of doing something challenging or innovative can cause employees to question whether or not the intended result warrants the difficulties. Pick those employees up emotionally and encourage them to stick to their efforts. Express your confidence in them and remind them of the important role their goals play in the company’s success. Emotional resources are just as important as any other resource you can provide.
Helping employees be successful at work is the core of what leaders do for their organizations. Take the time to understand what is going to help your employees accomplish their innovative ideas and then find a way to help them succeed.
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