4 Steps to Building a Company Culture of Innovation
It has been an incredible time for the modern workforce. Industry change is continuing rapidly, especially for those in the tech industry. Digital transformation is now leading companies into the workforce of the future, and often, this change can be spearheaded by current employees. Through opportunity and innovation, companies are opening doors to areas they thought were previously impossible, collaborating to foster relationships for growth, and developing an authentic culture of innovation. So, as a leader or director, how does one begin building this culture? Today, our team of logistics software leaders discusses four steps to building a company culture of innovation and how leaders can work in tandem with their employees to skyrocket digital transformation across their organization.
What Is a Culture of Innovation?
Before we dive into the steps of building an innovative workplace, it’s important to unpack exactly what a culture of innovation is. While there is no objective definition, a culture of innovation is a workplace environment that encourages all employees, from director-level to entry-level, to share creative ideas and solutions. Essentially, a culture of innovation breaks down the traditional hierarchy barriers of idea generation, providing a space for every employee to feel comfortable and confident pursuing their ideas and collaborating with team members of different levels and departments to turn their ideas into viable solutions or products. While a culture of innovation looks different in every business, it generally includes tactics such as developing new ideas, improving current products, gaining an advantage in your industry, and internal improvements such as increasing employee hiring, satisfaction, and retention.
Step 1: Strong Leadership to Set the Foundation
In the beginning stages of moving your company toward a culture of innovation, there is likely a traditional hierarchy that separates roles and idea-generation opportunities for directors, managers, and entry-level employees. While we are certainly not saying to abandon your current company structure, we are saying that the early stages of innovation require a stronger push from leadership. McKinsey refers to this as “innovation parenting,” We are very fond of this term. Dr. Waguih Ishak, Corning’s Silicon Valley Technology Chief, says, “innovative cultures start with a philosophy and tone – one analogous to the classic parenting advice that children need both roots and wings.” In essence, leadership within your organization should set the groundwork for innovation, providing opportunities for employees to interact, collaborate with one another, and continue to educate themselves on areas in which they are passionate.
Step 2: Transparency in All Aspects of the Workplace
One of leaders’ most significant and often most difficult steps is transparency. Traditional businesses have spent years working within the same parameters regarding transparency – the smaller, the better. Unfortunately, many companies have not prioritized their employees first, leading to a lack of transparency in salary, growth opportunities, and company mission and sustainability practices. Did you know that according to Forbes, 90% of millennials said they would happily commit to a company for ten years if their employer were clear about salary and status progression?
Additionally, a recent Paychex study shows a 54% increase in satisfaction from employees who had transparent employers compared to those who didn’t. This does not just mean transparency about monetary aspects of your business but also ethical ones. Gen-Z is set to make up over a third of the workforce by 2030, and they prioritize company values. Vergesense states, “transparency starts with leadership… how to level up within your company and what actions are being taken to support your value claims and equity initiatives.” Today, employers must walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Step 3: Foster Diverse & Inclusive Teams
Teamwork makes the dream work, right? When done correctly, absolutely! Atlassian recently did a study on the state of teams, detailing that just having teams isn’t enough, but finding the right collaborative outlets makes all the difference. One notable metric was that 97% of teams whose culture supports innovation make time to reflect and incorporate lessons learned. This challenges the traditional workplace norm of supporting wins and harping on failures. Instead, employers are transitioning to a more constructive reflection, helping their employees work with a solution-oriented mindset rather than focusing on their potential loss. The three most common struggles that this study found were that teams had poor connection and alignment (56%), lacked psychological safety (37%), and there was not a healthy team climate (34%).
So, what do these metrics mean? When developing teams or collaborative environments for your employees, think of balance first. Of course, you don’t want to create teams that have adamantly opposing views or would cause conflict, but you also don’t want to get in the habit of building teams that are so similar creativity and idea generation dwindle. For large-scale projects, consider setting up brainstorming sessions that include multiple departments. For SCLogic, this looks like meeting with our Marketing, Sales, and Tech Services teams to develop the most efficient sales process, from pre-sale to post-implementation. Each department collaborates using its unique expertise while expanding our solution by incorporating ideas from multiple teams.
Step 4: Create a Sense of Autonomy in the Workplace
I know what you’re thinking, we just talked about team collaboration, and now we’re talking about autonomy? Remember, balance is critical. While team collaboration is essential for fostering a culture of innovation, so is creating a sense of autonomy. BetterUp defines workplace autonomy as “freedom within the confines of a greater company goal.” So often, directors, managers, and upper-level employees are timid about giving their teams the reigns on larger projects, allowing them the creative freedom to carry out a task without every step laid out. But this is a huge benefit to creating a culture of innovation within your workplace.
First, workplace autonomy fuels employee engagement and motivation. When individuals and teams are responsible for success firsthand, they will work within their power to achieve it. Additionally, workplace autonomy fuels a sense of trust and transparency, allowing employees of all levels to speak their minds and seek innovative solutions. This does not just stay within the confines of your project, however. Autonomy in the workplace is a comprehensive strategy that sets your company up for future success by building emerging leaders and promoting skill development. As these teams learn, grow, fail, and succeed, they gain firsthand knowledge of how to grow your business, expand revenue, and, ultimately, become your next director-level team.
A Step Toward Innovation with SCLogic
When beginning your digital transformation process, it isn’t easy to know where to begin. Finding a solution that works for your entire team and facility is challenging for directors, but we’re here to provide the answer. At SCLogic, we’ve spent 25 years perfecting our logistics software, Intra, to be a one-stop shop for all your facility’s needs. From asset management to workplace requests, we have you covered. With a priority on secure, user-friendly, and sustainable software, you’re not just adding another piece of technology to your collection; you’re starting your journey into a culture of innovation. To learn more about our workgroups, email [email protected] or schedule a demo with one of our team members today. We can’t wait to hear from you.