Sooner or later every team needs a creative boost. Whether it’s work getting stagnate or if some competitor’s breathing down your neck, you need to inspire your team to be better, more innovative and, hopefully, more productive. So how do some of the best in the business get that done? Here are a few suggestions…
Start with leading by example.
That’s not to say you need to do everything, but you do need to cultivate an environment of creativity and a culture of innovation by showing, rather than demanding. When you are a font of new ideas and strategies for making current ways of doing things better and more interesting, then you set an expectation on your team. This doesn’t mean you need to be meddling in everything people do, and you definitely don’t want to be known as the boss who just HAS to tinker with everything his people are working on. You do need to offer creative input and direction, and you need to be an active element in the development of new ideas.
Properly resource your people.
If your team only has the tools they need to do what they’re doing now … that’s what they’re going to do. They need to know you will be there to resource them properly when they need something to turn “good enough” into “better.” Invest in R&D and give your best people all the permission they need to develop their ideas. That doesn’t mean you need state of the art everything or a dedicated facility with all the bells and whistles. You can still stick to a budget and encourage innovation. Just find the right balance that works for your situation.
Celebrate “bad” ideas.
Nothing is more toxic to innovation than someone saying something can’t be done when it hasn’t even been tried. Give your people the permission and the freedom to fail forward. Yes, you will see money go to things that don’t get off the launch pad, but that’s much better than losing all your business to a competitor that came up with the “latest and greatest” … If you want to see how well complacency in place of trial and error works out, just look at Blackberry or Sears… The lesson there is stark and very real: just because people love what you’re doing today doesn’t mean they will want you tomorrow. Don’t let your fear of failure be the reason the whole operation comes crashing down.
Hire interesting and talented people you don’t quite understand.
One of the easiest ways to fall into mediocrity and failure is to stack your team with a bunch of people who think and act just like you do. You need people on your team that cut against the grain and, sometimes, seem a little strange. This kind of diversity of thought and perspective is a strong indicator of your operation’s ability to innovate. Conversely, hiring a prototype personality is the right way to go about always getting exactly the same things as you already have … which might be great for a while, but won’t stand up in the long run.
David Milberg is an experienced credit analyst in NYC. He is a long-time owner of Milberg Factors, a factoring and finance company with locations in New York, California, and North Carolina.