Six Ways to Combat Innovation Stagnation

April 18, 2018 Rachel Koeling

“Without the power of communication — two-way communication …” wrote Forbes author, Alex Goryachev, “… few if any innovations that better our lives and livelihoods would advance beyond the idea.” Yet, 95 percent of today’s workers don’t understand their company's goals or strategies. 

Think about that. A simple misunderstanding or miscommunication of the company strategy can affect workers and the Worker Experience (WX) — for better or worse. 

Stagnating habits to drop

This “innovation stagnation” can be repaired in a few simple, transparent steps, but organizational leaders need to correct some of their bad habits first. Here’s a list of some of the easiest to drop infractions and how you can overcome them: 

  1. Never give feedback — What’s with the lack of emails, closed door meetings, and no communicado?  The fix starts with small steps. If you have workers reporting to you, reach out and touch base with them as often as makes sense. This includes having a standing weekly/bi-weekly/monthly meeting with each report — this way workers have opportunities to check in, ask questions, and handle any issues. It’s important to build rapport with each worker. It shows that you value their time, effort, and work. This could also be the perfect time to fix the next listed bad habit.
  2. Never get feedback — When you schedule your one-on-one meeting with your workers, ask them for thoughts about topics that can range from overarching business problems to smaller project issues. Regularly asking for input from your workers will encourage an environment where open communication is fact, not just possibility.
  3. Never revisit goals — What happens if you let those strategy sessions and weekly/quarterly/yearly goals slide? Even if you’re succeeding, you and your colleagues need to continuously revisit, revise, build on, and change up your goals. Updating your goals organizes all of that information in your mind, making them easier to remember and work into daily job tasks.
  4. Close your door — You might just need silence to get some work done, but the closed office door sends the visual message to your colleagues and direct reports that you’re turned off and unavailable. What’s more, the virtual closed door (not responding to emails, IMs, texts), is just as unhealthy and sends the same disconnected message. The closed door not only fails to encourage open communication, energy, and enjoyment at work, but it can also work to distance those behind closed doors from general office culture. 
  5. Never encourage — According to Gallup, “employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they'll quit in the next year.” Not only is a simple acknowledgement of a job well done a motivating factor for many workers, but it’s an opportunity to highlight and implement a strong work culture.
  6. Micromanage — By closely watching over your workers, you might be thinking you are encouraging team building and open communication. But oftentimes, what can be viewed as micromanagement can serve to shut workers down and clam them up in future interactions with the micromanager. (Here’s a helpful table explaining micromanagement behavior.)

Ditch those office faux pas — enable workers instead

The only way to bypass the no transparency roadblock is to encourage input, communication, and full transparency from the entire organization. This direct path to open communication allows workers to feel comfortable enough to let their hair loose and create, leading to new strategies, processes, and ideas.

Chuck those old bad habits, and instead empower your employees by introducing opportunities to innovate. Cut out needless red tape and bureaucracy. Find out what your workforce’s pain points are, where they’re experiencing success, and what processes and relationships can be improved.

Workers who are given communication, transparency, inclusivity, and the freedom to contribute ideas, have an edge on agility. Read “Advancing an Agile Worker Experience” to learn more about how you can encourage resilient, engaged, and productive workers. 

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