If you can't beat the competition with prices, you must differentiate your brand from the rest of the industry. With the markets getting flooded by new brands with equal or similar prices, more and more companies are forced to just that, and it's not easy. When differentiating, one may start with careful positioning, then branding, then organizational behavior, and then defining clear employee objectives and motivation to reach goals. Sometimes this just isn't enough. Your brand needs to stand out from the rest of the industry. Your brand needs innovation.
A company that has trouble with differentiating and innovating tends to have a recurring problem. Most managers decide to settle for employees that do their jobs sufficiently. That's all they can ask for, right? Getting innovative ideas from their employees relies solely on their creativity skills, doesn't it?
Owners and managers may not realize that ONLY they can be a catalyst towards innovation within a company. These factors can hinder not only innovation, but also employee leadership, and accuracy of projects.
If the manager/ business owner...
- Tells employees how to do their jobs or does not challenge employees to find solutions to problems by themselves.
- Acts as if an employee's idea is their own.
- Does not inspire employees by showing a clear picture of the company's future.
- Needs to approve of progress before moving forward.
- Edits, changes, or tweaks all projects assigned to employees.
- Is afraid of making mistakes.
- Promotes, endorses, or accepts innovation or ideas that imitates solutions close competition is adopting instead of coming up with solutions that differentiate from the competition.
These all are signs of innovation killers, but symptoms of less innovation are just some of many that can occur. Other symptoms can be seen when employees hide behind their desk instead of taking leadership because they know their input will probably not contribute to the ultimate decision. Lack of focus on accuracy can occur when their works is edited immediately after completion. Providing input on an area of expertise decreases because the they are told how to do their job, not challenged to show what they can do. Many employers may not even realize how their management can positively or negatively affect innovative ideas, creative leadership, and a more team oriented business.
The good news is the negative outcomes can be reversed.
Owners can use these guidelines to improve employee performance...
- When an employee completes a project, first commend them on what they did well. After this is done, if needed, offer suggestions to make it better, and ask them their opinion on the suggestion you offered.
- When assigning a new project, promote the employee taking ownership of the project and researching solutions to any problems that arise. The owner can then point them in the right direction on where to start.
- Provide a clear picture of where the company is positioned within the industry and where it wants to eventually be in the future. Along with this, provide employees with general, yet clear guidelines on how they can help the company achieve those goals.
- Make it clear that innovation separates the company from competition.
- And finally, don't be afraid of making small mistakes. Mistakes only improve performance and knowledge of everyone in the company.
Thanks for reading! Comments, additions, and ideas welcomed!