How Managers Can Create Innovative Teams

Managers need to know how to transform their teams into innovation engines
Managers need to know how to transform their teams into innovation engines
Image Credit: Robert Occhialini

As managers we are always looking for ways to use our manager skills to get more out of our teams. What we’ve been told is that we can do this if we can come up with a way to boost their innovation. It may sound easy, but it isn’t. What managers need to do is to find ways that they can revamp their business processes. This is going to require a radical rethinking of our business’ strategy and processes: how we interact with our customers, how they drive operational excellence and how we approach innovation. This is going to require that managers decide which technologies to use as the foundation of their transformation. Just in case you were wondering, there is no manager training for this kind of change.

Here Comes Innovation

Managers know that change does not come easy. Our teams are struggling to adapt to a growing role that includes both adopting innovation initiatives and doing everything else that is expected of us. The team’s perception of itself may be part of the problem, we may view ourselves as being a cost center instead of being an innovation center.

What managers need to do is to find a way to consider the business case first, and then focus on how to improve business optimization. The result of this is to put wheels under the business and make it slicker. In the end this is about transformation which is about changing the business model.

If a manager lacks a mindset to be innovative, it’s likely the rest of the business won’t be open to change. When managers aren’t inherently innovative themselves, they’re not going to understand how to be innovative or what will create a culture of innovation because they are low on that learning curve. The good news is that when managers begin to see what it takes to be innovative and really believe it is the path to creating new value, that trickles down to the team and the things they invest in go a long way toward bringing the rest of organization on board.

How To Get Your Team To Innovate

So how can a manager get their team to become more innovative? The manager must nurture the shift to innovation by finding “naturally innovative people” and encouraging their ideas. Many times, these people fly under the radar; so first, in order to engender culture of innovation a manager must not mandate it but go hunting for people naturally gifted in that way. These staff members will then encourage others, starting the team on the path of creating a culture of innovation.

How can a manager tell when they have been able to create a team that is able to be innovative? A good way to gauge whether you have culture of innovation is when bold ideas are brought to the table, are your team members creating an environment of criticism or creation? A manager needs to determine if they are shooting down those bold ideas that may be making them feel uncomfortable or are they creating ways of bringing those into the organization?

After a manager has been able to introduce innovation into their team, they then need to allow their team members to make decisions that are more creative and competitive. It helps to have an atmosphere where people can iterate, put something in production, fine-tune it, and keep it moving through processes quickly. An innovative culture comes where there is a willingness to try new things and be okay if they don’t work and get scrapped. Unless team members feel comfortable taking chances and doing some team building, you won’t have that.

What All Of This Means For You

The success of a manager is based on how their team performs. In order to get the most out of your team, you need to find ways to get them to become more innovative. In order to make your team more innovative you are going to have to spend some time thinking about how your business processes can be reworked and then motivating your team to find ways that the new processes can be improved.

In order for your team to become innovative, they need to be able to see themselves as being part of an innovation center. Managers need to be able to adopt an innovation mindset in order to be able to inspire the same in their teams. Managers need to find people who are motivated to become innovative in their teams and then motivate them. You’ll know that you’ve been successful when your team become supportive of new ideas when they are presented. Once this happens, managers need to be able to take a step back and allow their team members to make decisions.

Innovation is what motivates a team to produce more. As managers it is our responsibility to find ways to allow our teams to become more innovative. We need to understand that the way that we think and how we view the world is going to have a big impact on our teams. Start to think like an innovator and it’s going to rub off on your team!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way for a manager to reward their team when they show innovation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In a perfect world, a manager would have all of the knowledge, manager skills, and manager training that he or she needed to have when it came time for them to make a decision. With this information they could be comfortable that the decision that they were making was the right decision. However, as I’m pretty sure that you are well aware of, we don’t live in a perfect world. What this means is that we have to make decisions with limited information and that means that we need to learn how to deal with risk.