Even the head-scratchers deserve a closer look
Companies that stay competitive have their eyes and ears w i d e open to the market and trends, they are willing to hear their employees’ ideas and opinions (even dissenting ones), and they are not held back by the how of an idea. When they hear something novel, rather than identifying why it won’t work, they invest in the possibility that it might work.
This type of thinking requires a certain mindset. Whether you call an idea that doesn’t pan out a failure or a learning, is an indication of how you view innovation. Jeff Bezos of Amazon says, “Failure and invention are inseparable twins.” If innovation is to take hold across an organization, it must be a mindset that is genuinely encouraged and rewarded. Timothy Clark, author of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation, supports this, stating that “vulnerability that is rewarded leads to real innovation.”
Are you in a workplace that expects you to ideate, innovate, and challenge? If not, maybe you’re not in the right place.
Are you a leader who models, encourages, and rewards your employees for offering ideas and pushing back on yours? If not, what’s holding you back?
If you’re not sure how to pull fresh ideas and (healthy) arguments from your employees, try this:
- Go first; model what it looks and sounds like
- Encourage ideas
- Expect it from your employees
- Be curious
- Challenge assumptions
- Celebrate when people do it, even the “failures”
As you create a psychologically safe workplace, watch for these signs that you’ve done it right:
- They call you out when they don’t agree
- They’re not afraid to push back
- They’re not afraid to voice how they feel
- They readily offer ideas, even when unpopular or completely out of the box
- They ask people to poke holes in their ideas and aren’t upset when they do
- They know it’s okay to feel their feelings
Sure, it would be nice if our employees listened to everything we said and followed orders like good soldiers, but we’ll be far more successful when they feel safe to be true contributors.