How can leaders encourage innovation?According to Bob Kelleher, author of Employee Engagement for Dummies, innovation drives engagement. This is harder to see in action if businesses continue to support the ‘because’ culture. Ever recall times that you, or someone you knew suggested something, only to have it met with ‘ that’s a great idea, but..’ ? That's the ‘because’ culture, in a nutshell. In this setting, leaders are not receptive to change not instituted by them. They find reasons to reject creativity upfront, citing the ideas or suggestions to be costly, unfeasible or irrelevant to the business. This rigidity and reluctance to hear the employee out can be detrimental to employee engagement down the line. The trouble with the ‘because’ culture, is that it neither encourages, nor sustains creativity. It worries more about not breaking the rules than challenging the status quo. When employees get shot down or see their coworkers being unable to express themselves and be heard out, they start losing interest and focus in work. To their way of thinking, why should they put in any more effort or offer up suggestions when none are taken into consideration? Here’s why leaders should turn this mindset around, and consider innovation as an employee engagement strategy:
- Employees who are familiar with your processes would know which ones are working, and which ones aren’t (and haven’t been so for a long time).
- They can draw from customer feedback and find gaps between service requests and availability. For example, the demand for an old product or a new service. Consequently, they can relay this to product design and development and recapture interest by marketing the launch of such items.
- It can simplify routine work by finding an easier or quicker workaround.
- The company can follow market movements and recognize what users are asking for. Consequently they can evolve and keep their head in the game.
- Innovation raises satisfaction scores. In another Gallup survey, it was found that 74% of engaged employees give their customers new ideas, thereby helping them maximize their use out of a company’s product and/or service.