5 Tips Leaders Must Do to Motivate Employees to Innovate

Have you have ever worked with business organisations on innovation projects? Whether it’s small-scale insights and ideas to streamline internal processes or industry-changing new products, the leaders often struggle to motivate employees to innovate and dive into the brainstorming process. When they finally achieve their objectives, it’s a big moment, but it takes time.

Motivating employees to innovate is not easy. From managing competing organisation priorities to overcoming internal inertia and resistance, there are many things that might get in the way. But no matter the specific industry you are in, you can unlock the full potential of your workforce. This comes down to a mix of shared values, management approaches, resources, and strategy.

Most of the companies that excel in innovation create a culture that celebrates the entire ideation process. Instead of having six people in a room cranking out ideas, it’s best to have innovative thoughts permeate all employee levels and departments. Here are essential things leaders must do to motivate employees to innovate.

5 Tips Leaders Must Do to Motivate Employees to Innovate

1. Use a leadership and management approach that encourages innovation

When it comes to innovation in the workplace, the tone usually comes from the top. Your company’s senior management needs to find different ways to encourage their staff to think creatively about innovation each day and in addition take responsibility for new solutions and ideas.

Motivating employees to innovate through leadership and management is a challenge for many organisations. Here are specific techniques that can help. 

  • Empower your staff to think creatively about challenging problems
  • Use a non-hierarchical management approach when it comes to idea generation
  • Give your employees a reason to care about innovation in the workplace
  • Find and motivate employees who are already within your company and have the skills and a mindset to innovate
  • Make room for your staff members to consider innovation as part of day-to-day tasks 

Generally, your company’s leadership approach should be structured in such a way that it creates space, time, and motivation for your employees to exercise their creativity. This is an essential driver of innovation in today’s workplace.

2. Create a well-thought-out innovation strategy

Workplace innovation should be strategic and a core part of your organisation’s DNA. Regardless of each employee’s responsibilities, every person working for your company should be in a position to draw a straight line between the organisation’s innovation strategy and the contents of their day-to-day duties. Here are tips to help you create a robust innovation strategy that will most certainly help to motivate employees to continuously innovate.

Create a relevant innovation strategy and implement it. The right innovation strategy should set out guiding principles for how your organisation will expand its market share through ongoing service and product innovation. Therefore the strategy should help clarify what’s expected of each worker at every level of your organisation.  

Accepting failure. It is an unavoidable fact that innovations carry the risk of failure. Instead of trying to run from this fact, your organisation should come to peace with it. Therefore, appreciate the possibility of failure and encourage risky initiative among your staff to help them approach innovation in an open and inventive way. This is one reason market leaders like Amazon, Coke, and Netflix don’t shy away from acknowledging their failures

3. Be willing to experiment

To be truly innovative, organisations need to be ready to experiment. Whether this is done by identifying market adjacencies, customer co-creation, or participating in innovation hubs, organisations must demonstrate an appetite for unique or new ways of doing things. Here are ways you can achieve this. 

Look for market adjacencies. This is a crucial aspect of innovation. Adjacencies refer to new markets for products that are near related to the work your organisation is currently engaged in but maybe different enough to represent an opportunity or new value for your organisation. Venturing into these areas could create new clients and solidify your company’s market position. 

Embrace open innovation and co-creation opportunities. If you want to motivate employees to innovate, you shouldn’t be afraid to get your clients involved. After all, these are your die-hard fans who are most likely to have great ideas for new services and products, particularly if they are repeat customers. 

Participate in innovation hubs. An innovation hub is a place for company representatives to get together and share different approaches to various innovations. This concept recognises the importance of a somewhat multidisciplinary approach to innovation and reveals the importance of collaboration when it comes to solving problems.

via Microsoft Teams

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via Web Interface

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 4. Encourage innovation through open communication

Generally, getting innovation right takes effective and open communication. Your employees need to know that senior management is open about the need for innovation and the benefit for the company as a result. It is essential to provide consistent information about the organisation’s innovation objectives. You should also communicate the potential benefits for the workers if they get things right. An integral part of this is developing a strategy and ensuring open communication about innovations. 

5. Think about employee well-being

Innovation in the workplace is not just about encouraging your employees to think literally. It is also about ensuring that when they are creative, they don’t feel at risk. So, it’s crucial to ensure that your employees are psychologically safe and reward them for successful innovations.

Written by Jakob Lindvall

Combining his love for AI technology, passion for idea management, and 15+ years of experience as CEO of various companies, Jakob oversees the business planning, and strategic direction for the company.



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