Driving Innovation By Exchanging Ideas

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A culture of innovation is increasingly being viewed as a key component of businesses success – and one which the HR department can play a key role in developing.

At the center of this culture is all employees, from the new starter to the long-standing executive, and all employees must buy in if it is to truly become a success.

Innovation is created as a result of exchanging ideas, sharing expertise and learning experiences, solving problems and creating a sense of connectedness within an organization.

But there is work to be done. Research released earlier this year found 68 percent of British workers don't understand their companies overall vision – and this leads to decreased motivation and productivity.

Creating A Culture of Inclusion

For innovation to really thrive, companies must create a culture of inclusion, where employees feel they can freely make suggestions and share ideas which will be acted upon my management.

"What that releases in your workforce is a level of energy and diligence, which is very different from the fear-driven command-and-control type of structure," Ashley Ward, director at European Leaders, said.

The fact is, however, that the organization's research found just 18 percent of employees believe their company is good to work for, and 64 percent say they would work better if they were more motivated.

One key way in which this can be improved is by including workers in the shaping of strategy, which will allow for the exchange of ideas and further foster the culture of inclusion.

Phil McCabe, spokesman for the Forum of Private Business, explained: "I think the vast majority of employees start a new job with an eager and enthusiastic attitude and genuinely want to help the company succeed... If an organization can spare the time to invite its staff to help shape strategy, it should do so."

The amount of contact they have with individual employees makes it particularly important for line managers to understand the need for motivation and the role which inclusion plays in a culture of innovation.

Learning and Development

Creating a culture in which innovation can thrive is only half the story when it comes to driving innovation, the other half involves equipping employees with the tools to move ideas to the next stage.

Research from Bersin & Associates found senior leaders who participate in the coaching and developing of employees, and hold others accountable for training, are three times more effective at producing positive improvements in business and talent.

And the biggest barrier standing in the way of achieving these results is not having the framework or skills in place to develop a coaching regime.

"It is HR's responsibility to help senior leaders understand the impact of effective coaching on their organization's performance," chief executive officer Josh Bersin said.

Stacia Sherman Garr, senior analyst for Performance Management, Bersin & Associates, added: "A coaching and development approach to performance management empowers organizations to provide support when they cannot offer more compensation."

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) similarly advocates the use of coaching as a learning and development tool. Its latest Talent Development Survey predicted there would be greater integration between coaching, organizational development and performance management in the future as a way to drive organizational change.

Companies are increasingly ranking organizational development and change management among their key priorities as they look to prepare their organization for the next phase of growth. Coaching was recognised as the most effective form of achieving this by 49 percent of those involved in the research.

Dr John McGurk, learning and talent planning adviser at the CIPD, concluded: "Learning and development specialists across the country will be judged over the next two years on how well they support organizations as they aim to gain competitive advantage through their employees."