By: Chuck Frey
Coaching people to be innovative requires different skills from those normally used at work. This blog post outlines a few of the most important.
Innovation is different to many other types of work people undertake in a company. It requires a more holistic attitude and by definition needs to work outside of the normal conventions. The result is that the command and control approach usually hinders the creation of new, effective ideas. The CEO who shouts the orders above is likely to get less risky ideas that are part of the normal way of doing things, not ground breaking innovation.
But there are several steps you can take to ensure you are getting the most from your team to coach them toward new ideas:
More information: Let them know exactly why a new idea is needed and what is trying to be achieved. Give them any details you have about the general areas you expect them to work in. If there are any facts and figures give these as well. And if there is a ‘greater purpose’ for the work, let them in on the secret.
Training: Help them understand how to innovate effectively. Give them the techniques they need and bring in outside sources. You might even want to point them to InnovationTools.com. Ensure people have the right skills to be able to produce the ideas. If they don’t, they are likely to feel overwhelmed and slightly scared.
Feedback: Check whether they have everything they need and let them know if they are on the right track. Do not pre-judge ideas, but do let your team know if they are working well together and praise them for their output.
Get out of the way: If you are looking over their shoulder they will not believe they have the autonomy to create a new idea. They’ll worry about what you think and hold back from exploring truly different lines of thought. You will get better ideas if you let your teams go in the direction they want to go for awhile. You can pull things back later if needed, so don’t worry.
There is more that can be done, but without the above you will be lacking some of the key ingredients for the best ideas sessions. The final piece of advice is to occasionally give rewards for the best ideas – but after they have been produced. Promising bonuses before the event can actually decrease output, but an unexpected bonus after the event can be very effective.
How do you encourage creativity in your firm? Please share your hints and tips in the comments area below. I’d really like to hear from you!