What’s an Employee’s Role in Innovation?

employee role in innovationLet’s say you are an employer who is looking to encourage innovation of ideas among your employees. What would you imagine would be the result of rejecting some employee ideas?

Well, probably not what you might think. Recent research has shown that when an employee’s idea is rejected by their organization, it actually can drive innovation by motivating them to come back with new ideas.

Although this outcome is the result of a delicate balance; after all, nobody is going to be interested in trying something again at which they’ve not been successful if they feel ridiculed or belittled for trying the first time. Perhaps the most important step is an overarching one: organizations should cultivate a climate that is inviting, safe, and positive for employee innovators. It’s important for employees to know that the result of their idea has no impact on their job, furthering the feeling of a safe environment. For more tactics on crafting an environment of innovation, read our recent white paper on the importance of employee innovation.

Once the right mood has been set for innovation, it will be much easier to encourage employees to participate in the sharing of ideas, even if their initial suggestions are not enacted. The research showed that those whose ideas were rejected tended to persist in an effort to determine the causes of their rejection. This is another place where the organization can step in and assist—examining with employees ideas which were successful, and how those employees might attain that level with their own ideas in the future. Helping to provide the proper support and motivation can make all the difference.

Along these lines, it’s important for organizations to think more about how they will reject ideas. It is essential to respond to ALL ideas. Nobody likes to live in that limbo of not knowing, so even if ideas are not pushed forward, it is best practice to inform everyone of the status of their ideas. It is also imperative to celebrate the effort that employees have made, even if their ideas are not enacted; employees are far more likely to try again if they feel that their first attempts are appreciated. For more tips on how to respond to ideas, watch our Creating a Culture of Innovation webinar.

What are other strategies you can think of to encourage your employees to continue innovating, even if their ideas are not initially accepted for enactment?

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