Category Archives: Rewards

Successful Motivation

successful motivationLearn how to successfully motivate people to do things that they don’t want to do.  This article illustrates how some simple techniques can be applied for just that problem.  Among them:

  1. Breaking tasks into small conquerable chunks.   This makes sense from many perspectives.  Management is much easier when work is subdivided, and the saying, “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step,” is a indicator of how long the concept of subdividing has been considered.
  2. Using tracking and estimation tools to help plan work and understand each task’s importance in the entire job.  This is a powerful concept, however, an additional bit of information can help you even further.  Researchers examined how people pursue their goals by imagining either 1) how far they had already come, 2) or what was left to be accomplished.  It turns out that it was more effective to think about #2, what was left to be accomplished.  So instead of tracking percent completion, track percent uncompleted.  Read more here.
  3. Utilizing incentives, particularly those awarded with an element of variability.  There is a lot of research/proof that backs up this though, however, you have to be careful that rewards are not used as part of day-to-day operations, as they can actually disincentivize people.

 

 

Offer Rewards for Saving Money

Many business owners have realized that their business depends on spending less money. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to pare down the running of your business without causing a disruption to the work that must be done. Instead of handing out memos on the cuts that you plan to make to your operating budget, offer a reward to employees who can save money in their own daily work.

This fosters a much better atmosphere about saving money and will encourage employees to be looking for ways to cut their expenses on their own without a directive from above. Simple rewards show your employees that you appreciate their hard work and effort and can often cost you much less than the savings you will gain from your employees efforts. And if those cost cutting methods continue into the next month, the gain will make the cost of the reward minimal.

Sparking a little competition among your employees is a tried and true method to encouraging the very best from them. It also shows your employees that you are all in it together and that their contribution is valued. Keep the program going throughout the year and you will have a lean mean operating budget by the end of your first few months.

Be open to Employees

One of the best ways that a business owner can encourage innovation in employees is to actually be open and available to employees. A lot has been made about an open door policy, but there are very few business owners who actually put it into practice. Set aside some time in your day or week to be available to employees who can give you some of their ideas.

You might be surprised at the innovative suggestions that your employees will come up with when they feel comfortable enough to approach you. Once a few of these employee ideas are put into place, more of your workers will feel encouraged to come up with their own. The best source for information on the way that your business operates is the employees who work for you every day.

The workers who must use your current processes know what works and what does not work. They can often come up with a faster and more efficient way of doing the job. These ideas can be put into place for all of your employees to use and follow for a more efficient and effective overall workforce. Open up your door and let the employees in with their ideas for the best way to steer your company for the future.

Eliciting Innovation from Employees

Creating an atmosphere of innovation for employees can simply be a matter of letting employees know that you are working on a project that needs their creative input. The creative process needs a starting point and usually employees need to be provided a reason to present their ideas and suggestions.

When asking for ideas from employees, make sure you are specific about what the focus of the solutions should be about a way to reduce the operating budget by $1 million to save a certain number of jobs, a packaging solution to a bulky product, a way to fill a key position. Offer the employees ways to submit their solutions and also provide a way for the employees to identify themselves with their suggestions. Some ways to encourage suggestions are to have suggestion contests or offer rewards for the top suggestions.

When you choose solutions that are offered from your employees, be sure to recognize the employee and give them credit for their innovative ideas and suggestions. While budgets may be right during this challenging economic recession, employee recognition for positive contributions is important to keeping up employee morale and encouraging employees to continue to submit ideas and suggestions.

Creating an Atmosphere of Innovation

Innovation and creativity are synergistic and organic events that happen with support and encouragement. Some of the ways that innovative creativity happens is by putting together a creative team that works together to solve a dilemma or challenge in a new way. This team may work together on a daily basis by having their desks arranged in a way that allows them to talk frequently and lob ideas at each other. They may meet regularly for brainstorming sessions or creative consultations with other teams that are working on similar projects.

Another way that companies have approached solving problems is to encourage creative teams to spend time together outside of the workplace. The creative retreat is an example of this method of encouraging innovation. Creative retreats are events where an entire team is sent to a remote site to spend several days or a week together, during which they have intense brainstorming sessions in between preparing and eating meals together and time doing fun or entertaining activities. During these downtime activities, often creative solutions pop up unexpectedly.

Sometimes the simple “open door” policy can be the answer to creating an atmosphere of innovation and creativity. Managers who are receptive to suggestions are often surprised by suggestions that might be offered; particularly if they make it known they are looking for suggestions.

Use Consumer Technology as a Springboard to Innovation

You’ve either seen them or you have them new consumer communication devices that allow a convergence of all kinds of methods of communication. Smart phones, mini computers, handheld game systems, and organizers have become faster, smaller, and capable of carrying out multiple tasks at once.

As people, your customers, take advantage of all these new technological marvels, where is your business in the process? These changes in the communication systems provide opportunity for an innovate push in creating interaction with your business’s public. Consider also the social networking community and the opportunities those sites provide.

While there are concerns that must be addressed, it’s a useful exercise to look at the innovative ways your company can utilize these new resources, both within the company in employee interactions, but also outside the company in the interactions it has with its customers.

If a company sees these new technologies as an opportunity to connect in ways not before considered. This creates an excellent opportunity for innovation as both the IT team and the customer service team.

Don’t get caught in the rut of “This is how we’ve always done it.” Instead, look at the technology and see how your employees and customers use it. Think of the possibilities, and come up with some interesting ways to integrate that technology into your everyday practices.

See http://businessinnovation.cmp.com/collaboration/feat_collaboration_12092008.jhtml;jsessionid=LFLESCIQPZG30QSNDLPSKH0CJUNN2JVN for more ideas.

How to Succeed with Low Cost Innovation

Radical innovations certainly get lots of buzz. They’re what get people talking and create the biggest stir.

But low-cost, “disruptive” strategies can also address a niche need that can be innovative and profitable. Cutting down on some features in order to offer a product at a lower price is a tried strategy of innovation, but one that requires careful planning and forethought.

Thinking in innovative ways about altering a current product or service to offer it at a lower price does work for many businesses think about Dell and Nucor. Scott Anthony, suggests that there are three questions a company attempting this kind of innovation needs to ask themselves before launching such a venture.

1. Is it still “Good Enough?” If you must strip so many features from a product that it no longer delivers what customers need, then the lower cost won’t have enough of an appeal. If the cell phone can’t be heard, it’s not “good enough.”
2. Will this product be different from the market leader’s next innovation? If a large company with years of experience in the market is in the process of making high featured, lower cost alternatives, then an upstart will have little success.
3. Is there a feature to the lower cost product that utilizes a new process? If so, there’s a greater chance of success.

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Innovate or Perish

It’s a tough economy, and many businesses are struggling to keep themselves afloat as they struggle through the challenges.

Both those who are making it and those who are not are discovering that innovation can be the different between thriving and perishing as an organization.

The mantra is repeated in business publications all over the globe: innovate or die.

The video gaming industry provides us with examples of companies who died from lack of innovation and innovations they couldn’t support. Although Sega pioneered some of the technology that has become standard in current gaming systems, they suffered from a lack of vision and innovation in their products, becoming complacent and taking their customers for granted.

After the Sega Genesis became the biggest selling system in 1980s, their next products — Sega Game Gear and Saturn were plagued by both lack of big ideas and lack of support for their innovations.

Game Gear sported the first color screen in the handheld industry, but a battery with only two hours of life, and a bulky adapter that meant even less portability.
(http://www.denofgeek.com/games/8780/the_death_of_segas_consoles_historys_warning.html )

Constant vigilance, a business open to innovation, and a structure for implementing innovations are key to being in the game rather than on permanent retirement.

Innovation is not something that “comes naturally.” While some people do see things with the different perspective needed by an innovator, that’s not all that is necessary for innovation to survive.

It requires hard work and ongoing effort from a business to keep the visionary spirit alive, foster the environment where innovation can thrive and employees can build the skills that help them think vigorously about the challenges that face them.

Employees can be taught some of these skills, and companies can improve the amount and quality of innovative thinking in their business by teaching skills like examining the context of the problem.

(More at http://www.arcionwebdesign.com/webdesign/small_business_innovation_tips_consulting.htm )

Making it Easy for Your Employees to Innovate

While a Dilbert-esque office atmosphere may be funny on the comic pages, it’s not amusing if that mentality takes over your business.

To discourage the apathetic and unproductive employee and instead encourage an innovative, self-motivated and excited employee, you’ll want to create an atmosphere where it’s easy for employees to innovate.

The physical surroundings in your workplace may stifle creativity and innovation. If management is isolated and segregated from the rest of the employees, it is less likely that they’ll hear the buzz around the office, and less likely that employees will approach them with new ideas.

Management should have desk and office space that is accessible to all employees, and physically close to other employees so that they can be accessed easily.

Look at the physical surroundings of your employees as well. Are they hidden away individually inside tiny cubicles? This is not a great layout to encourage innovation. Open things up, create group areas and working stations that encourage interaction about work.

Just as the physical surroundings need to be open, so do the lines of communication and conversation. The atmosphere of the office should be open and welcoming, relaxed and low-pressure.

Management and employees should often have conversations about what they could do better, where the business is going in the next few months or years, and what are the best ways to get it there.

Employees need to see management using new ideas and trying suggestions frequently so they are encouraged to offer more ideas. If suggestions are ignored, laughed off, or buried under piles of objections, further innovation is stifled.

A business must also be open to ideas and understanding that comes from the outside. Read about your market. Keep up with the latest buzz regarding your product niche. Think about how your business can respond to the newest trends, or better yet, how you can stay in front of them.

The Secrets to Hiring Innovative Employees

You know you need to have innovation in your business; you want innovation and you support it. But how do you find employees who share that vision?

How do you know in the interview that someone is likely to be enthusiastic about new ideas, that they are creative, that they are willing to think in new ways and listen to different points of view?

The interview will be the key to finding an innovative employee. There are two important factors to consider. One is to create the atmosphere in the interview that lets the potential employee know that you value innovation.

If you are interviewing an innovative person, you want them to know and feel that their ideas and creative solutions will be sought and valued at your workplace. The way you describe your company and what you choose to tell them about your company lets them know what you value.

If you have a loose management structure that encourages a free flow of ideas and doesn’t get carried away with chains of command, then you’ll let people know in the interview. Innovators will find that atmosphere appealing.

Rob Curley heads up innovation at the Washingtonpost.com. He says he can tell within the first ten seconds of the interview if the person has the excitement and passion that shouts, “I’m an innovator!

Then he hires smart people who “get it” and gives them the opportunity to run with those ideas, protecting them from the bureaucracy as much as possible. (http://www.collegemediainnovation.org/blog/2007/03/02/icm-interview-rob-curley/ )

Whatever your business is, you want to let potential and new employees know that you have and will continue to foster the informal, open workplace where innovation can spring up and grow.

Making good hiring decisions based on ideas and enthusiasm, then letting new employees see ideas being implemented and valued will allow you to hire and retain innovative employees in your business.