A Human Resources Thought: How to Get “Every Mind in the Game”

What can you do to encourage employee engagement and innovation in your organization?

As former GE CEO Jack Welch wrote last year:

“You want to engage every single person on your team to find a better way. You want to champion them for doing it and make a celebration out of what they improve, whether it be a more efficient accounting system, launching a new customer program, or making a screw in a factory turn a little faster to make things run a little better. Those are the real innovations. And, together, with every mind in the game, they are what makes a company competitive.”

Using these tenets as inspiration, let’s talk about how an HR department can pitch in and get all the employees of a firm thinking about and moving toward the same goals. As an employee it is easier, much easier in fact, to give 50% effort every day than trying to constantly innovate and improve your department or company.

Issue a clear call encouraging innovation toward accomplishing one of the organization’s goals.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you get there? Establishing clear goals is critical for an organization to all pull together. Instead of walking in lock step towards that goal, encourage your employees to innovate and improve on the processes already in place. “Because that’s how we’ve always done things!” is a terrible principle to build your business on. Once again, encourage employees to break through the malaise and truly innovate on your products and services.

Help your employees take their ideas to implementation by boosting their confidence while helping them to develop concrete action plans, complete with experimentation. This writes in a tolerance for failed experimentation.

Now that you’ve established the encouragement, nurture the nascent ideas of your employees through the planning and action stages. You must assist them in working through speed bumps and bugs, while crafting their plan and shaving down the rough edges. Be aware that some pieces, or even entire innovation ideas, may fail. Gather your courage and try again.

Recognize all efforts at innovating, even if they do not work out.

Giving kudos goes a long way toward keeping employees happy and working hard. You asked them to TRY to innovate, and any attempts at that goal should be rewarded with praise.

Debrief, so that learnings from failures as well as successes are held in common.

Lastly, figure out what you learned from the experience. Was it a smashing success? Could the process have been improved upon? Which stage exactly? A big piece of failure is learning from it so you can do better next time.

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