Employees need to be recognized for their efforts, plain and simple. This is especially true as you’re trying to drive innovation forward at your company. If you’re not doing this already, you need to start a regular process for recognizing (better yet, rewarding) workers in your company. If the whole innovation process is new to your organization, or your current process is being updated or changed, then you’re most likely asking employees to perform new tasks that are not already part of their jobs. If this is the case, there must be some understanding on their part that there’s ”something in it for them.”
One way to do this, of course, is to recognize them or give out awards in some sort of public forum. You can pick out these “superstars” by creating a value system that ties into the benefit (aka: cost savings, revenue, ROI, or some other financial metric) of implemented ideas that sprang from the employee well. If you’re doing innovation right, then you’re already benchmarking this, of course, too!
Many companies use a points-based system to track particular activities within the innovation process: “Submitting an idea,” “Management approves an idea,” or “idea gets implemented” are all good events to start tracking. Still other companies choose to simply share a monetary award based on the benefits received from a good idea.
It’s all about creating an incentive for employees to share ideas and follow through on the resulting new projects. Without that incentive, there is little motivation to strive beyond the daily expectations of their typical job function.
Another fairly simple suggestion you can put into play is to create a program for employees to write articles, knowledge base entries, contribute to publications, and make a name for themselves in their discipline. Even if these pieces are only used internally, the sharing of expertise is a very powerful way to become recognized for your knowledge and contributions to the company. Supporting employees in this way is a sure-fire method for getting them to solve problems and share ideas that they’ve seen work in different environments. All of this drives innovation to it’s peak.