5 Ways Leadership Skills Foster Innovation and Lead Change in the Workplace
Are you well aware of leaders' role in stimulating creativity and innovation in your workplace?
Boosting staff performance in a way that disrupts the status quo becomes challenging in a dynamic environment with a dispersed workforce.
The hierarchical vertical of business owners and CEOs at the top is outdated – and misplaced – in a modern and dynamic work environment.
Today, to be a leader in the true sense of the word and achieve business success, you need to learn how to motivate and engage your employees, resulting in heightened productivity and innovation.
But how can HR managers and business owners use their leadership skills in practice to create an innovative and flexible workforce? We'll explore five concrete strategies.
🎯 Set a shared goal
To improve performance management and foster innovation at your workplace, you must align company and employee goals. Here are some ways to achieve this:
- Link company goal KPIs and individual employee KPIs.
- Set milestones and reward the employee's progress along the way.
- Clearly define employee roles, responsibilities, and objectives.
- Make goal-setting a collaborative activity and include both remote and on-site staff.
- Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
- Establish clear end-goals but leave space for autonomy, creativity, and independence.
- Provide the necessary tools for your employees to accomplish their goals.
- Encourage your staff to speak openly if they encounter obstacles preventing them from reaching their goals.
You should aim to give your employees a sense of belonging at work by showing them how their efforts will contribute to:
- the success of the company as a whole, and
- their career growth.
Tip #1: Always align individual employee goals to organizational goals. It will constantly push your employees to grow, upgrade, and develop their competencies.
Tip #2: A culture of learning will keep things dynamic and challenging enough for your people to prevent boredom and loss of motivation.
🙋♀️ Increase employee engagement
Great leaders listen to their employees and try to understand their personal needs.
The result is a happier and more productive employee motivated to contribute.
But simply measuring employees' satisfaction doesn't automatically improve business outcomes.
Tip #1: You will have to approach employee engagement as a business strategy to get results.
Tip #2: Once you have collected insights from your employees, you need to get proactive. An employee engagement action plan is our recommended path.
➡️ Ready to get started with an employee engagement plan? We have the template for you.
Is employee morale low after returning to the office?
A great way to improve employee engagement and allow them a better work-life balance is to offer remote or hybrid work options.
If employers stopped offering remote work options, "54% of employees currently working exclusively from home said they would likely look for another job; 38% of hybrid workers said the same," highlights Gallup's 2022 The Future of Hybrid Work.
Here are some other ways to boost employee engagement:
- Provide continuous learning opportunities;
- Reward and give recognition when it's needed;
- Improve internal communication and remain transparent;
- Take care of your staff's mental health;
- Foster an inclusive company culture where everyone feels welcome.
➡️ Is remote engagement your Achille's heel? We have compiled 47 ways to boost remote employee engagement with concrete examples and tips.
🤩 Lead by example
The best way to inspire your employees is through action.
So, don't just talk the talk - walk the walk!
Effective leadership and management are the basis of every successful business thriving in a dynamic environment.
Tip #1: Start by defining your company culture and behaviors you want to encourage and those you wish to diminish.
Tip #2: Then, reflect on your actions and see what you, as a leader, could do better.
Here are some ways to lead by example in practice:
- Follow all company rules - you need to portray yourself as "one of the team" instead of a privileged superior.
- Value integrity and transparency above everything.
- Own up to your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, so there is no need to brush them under the rug. Use any mistake as a learning opportunity.
- Set standards and work ethics that staff will follow.
- Listen and encourage suggestions. A great way to get started is by asking for upward feedback. But remember to receive this feedback open-mindedly—no need to get defensive.
- Understand that innovation requires courage and (calculated) risk-taking.
- Promote team spirit and acknowledge and reward team efforts instead of exclusively focusing on the individuals. This is a great tip also for building high-performance teams.
- Value all employees equally.
- Resolve conflicts quickly and fairly, always hearing both sides of the story.
💬 Foster trust and open communication
Every great leader knows when it's time to delegate some tasks to someone with more expertise.
You might be great at business, but you can't be great at everything. So, learn to let go and trust that each team member is a professional in their job.
A disruptive team needs the autonomy and freedom to be creative and think of something "new."
Tip #1: If you wish to lead a team that's ready to grow and flexible enough to do it in today's dynamic environment, then let them do what they do best.
As a leader, it's your job to establish open and transparent communication on every level of your company. Often, the best ideas come from unexpected people and places.
Tip #2: Try to diminish the company hierarchy as much as possible to enable your staff to take creative risks and suggest ideas without fear of "making a mistake."
Tip #3: Every employee should feel safe enough to knock on your door, ask questions, or tell you their opinion without fear of repercussions.
🌱 Invest in employees' career growth
Employees who can wear multiple hats are at the core of every dynamic workplace.
While larger corporations can afford significant overhead costs, startups and small businesses often work with fewer employees.
Tip #1: To compensate for the lack of talent, many agile startups upskill and reskill capable employees to advance their careers and contribute to the company's success simultaneously.
Tip #2: Employee mentorship can be a great way to transfer the skills to junior employees while giving a sense of purpose to mentors or senior employees.
Tip #3: Investing in your employees' career growth is a smart move in terms of retention.
Although, more often than not, business owners are afraid to train valuable employees due to fear they might quit and find a better opportunity.
That's a common mistake that will cause you to lose quality employees in the long run.
According to a 2021 PwC Hopes and Fears survey, 77% of workers are ready to learn new skills or even retrain (reskill), while 74% see training as their responsibility.
So, as you can see, employees are eager for challenges and to learn more. They want to innovate and create things to be proud of.
It's up to you as their leader to provide them with the right opportunities.
➡️ Wrapping up: Start investing in effective and inclusive leaders
If we could summarize the above advice, it all boils down to promoting a more transparent and trusting company culture that accepts and appreciates diverse opinions and out-of-the-box ideas.
Creativity and innovation thrive on flexibility, transparency, and team spirit.
So, hopefully, we've given you some food for thought on how you can achieve this in practice. Honing your leadership skills towards being more people-centric is a foolproof way to foster innovation and remain flexible during changes in a dynamic work environment.
Book a free 30 minutes demo to see how Zavvy can help you build your next generation of influential leaders.
Contributing author: Rob Press
Rob is a Content Marketing Manager at Deputy, a robust scheduling software that can be used to manage your workforce in a wide variety of different industries. Aside from helping businesses reach operational efficiency, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in SaaS, B2B, and technology in general.