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You started 2017 determined to make it the year of innovation, and that drive to make your business bigger and better is all the motivation you need to get out of bed in the morning. But that doesn’t mean your employees feel the same way.
Whether you’re rolling out a new data management system or revolutionising a long-held process, it all sounds the same to them – it just means a whole load of changes and a messy transitional period to deal with. And if their hearts aren’t in it, even the most brilliant strategy for innovation will fail.
To get your entire team on side, you need to create a workplace culture that encourages your employees to embrace change and innovation.
Here are five steps that’ll help you do exactly that.
#1: Ask for their opinions
Announce a big change to your business and instantly rumours about job losses, replacements and longer hours will start flying around the office. They’re a sign that everyone’s feeling a little unsure about what your latest innovation means for their working days and their careers.
If you ignore those grumblings, a nasty, uncooperative atmosphere will quickly develop. The difficulty is catching the whispers, which will no doubt be swiftly silenced whenever you enter the room.
#2: Address their feelings
There’s no point collecting feedback and then leaving it to collect dust at the back of your desk – it’s just a waste of everyone’s time. Once you’ve got their opinions, address each specific concern.
So, if a department is worried about job security, speak to the team and placate them. Let them know your intention is to make their job easier, not to replace them.
Be honest and supportive, and make it clear that you’re always open to hearing their thoughts, even once the new project is well under way.
#3: Communicate what’s happening
Before asking your employees to implement a new innovative strategy, call a team meeting and explain what’s going on in a clear and concise manner.
Imagine you’re pitching your idea to potential investors (after all, your employees will be investing their time and efforts into this) and start at the beginning. Discuss how and where your scheme has come from, and why you’re so excited about it.
Hopefully your passion will be infectious, but at the very least you’ll be able to clear up any lingering confusion or rumours.
#4: Offer further training
The success of your latest venture depends upon your employees, so give them the tools and expertise to implement it effectively.
If you’re investing in new software or updating equipment, establish a training programme that’ll teach them the basics of operating it.
By doing so, you’re helping the entire team feel more confident about their ability to deal with the changes coming their way.
#5: Celebrate achievements and learn from failures
When you’re focusing on being innovative, there’s bound to be a few mistakes along the way. But if your employees are worried about the consequences of failure, they won’t feel confident enough to try out new things.
Build a corporate culture that replaces that negative sense of individual responsibility with a team mentality, that views failure as a learning process rather than something to shy away from, to keep morale high.
It won’t happen overnight, but you can start by acknowledging small and large achievements (weekly shout outs or incentive schemes work well), holding weekly brainstorming sessions to evaluate progress and analysing mistakes as a team.
By following these five steps to get your employees on board with change, you’ll soon find that your latest strategies for innovation are much more successful.
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