In an earlier article, I discussed how to build a culture of innovation. Some of the tips included avoiding micromanagement, keeping stress level to a minimum, and encouraging your people to take risks. These methods can definitely re-energize a stale culture, but there are other avenues you might try as well. The end of the year is the perfect time to put some of these ideas into effect for a fresh start in January.
Get Your Games On
When most people think about gamification, they picture sophisticated software programs featuring elaborate plots and characters. But gamification is simply taking the essence of games—fun, play, transparency, design and challenge—and applying it to real-world objectives rather than pure entertainment. In her recent article for Inc., Ekaterina Walter featured social solutions company Sprinklr. In the “Sprinklr Assassins” game, everyone in the office gets assigned another employee as a target and the goal is to be the last person standing. The competition is fun, of course, but it also helps the business by promoting cohesiveness and relationship building.
Intrapreneurship is the practice of entrepreneurship within the context of an established organization, by leveraging the resources of that organization. Intrapreneurship sounds great on paper, but if you leave it to chance, it will lose out to everyday business fires every time. If your culture is getting stale, consider building intrapreneurial projects into employee performance objectives and setting aside time each week for employees to pursue innovative personal projects that will take your business to the next level. Decide on the projects that will receive significant organizational resources by establishing a formal innovation committee to vet ideas.
Recycle Old Policy Binders
Businesses get into a rut when they are lazy about status quo (i.e., we’ll do it this way because this is the way we’ve always done it). Complacency about policies and procedures stifles innovation, so revisit yours every year to ensure they’re accomplishing what they’re meant to accomplish. Also, think ahead. Just because it worked well in 2005 doesn’t mean it will be equally effective in 2015, so be proactive about refreshing rules that directly affect your culture.
Reassess Your Meetings
The business world is meeting happy. As Nick Williams points out in his article for Definity Partners, when a problem arises, the first inclination is to schedule a meeting as opposed to having an impromptu conversation where the problem showed up. And when the meeting happens, too often real-life interpersonal communication is replaced with charts and graphs. What’s worse, when the script is predetermined, sometimes the raw truth ends up being concealed and it’s rare that a breakthrough improvement will occur. So, the next time you spot an issue, question whether you should call a formal meeting or if you’re better off walking down the hall to chat with an employee one-on-one. You might arrive at a better solution much faster.
Assemble the Peanut Gallery
Let’s be honest: Most businesses don’t really want to hear from their employees. They prefer people to do their jobs without commentary because it’s easier. But regularly exposing yourself to diverse perspectives keeps your culture fresh and vibrant. Hold monthly town hall meetings to solicit your employees’ opinions on top-of-mind operational issues, send out frequent “pulse” surveys, and periodically gather individual teams together to review performance. And most importantly, during these engagements, assure your employees that it’s safe to speak up, listen carefully to feedback, and take action on it whenever feasible.
Once you have a great culture in place, you can't just set it and forget it. It's something that needs to be cultivated year after year.
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