In the last blog, I wrote about innovation being everyone’s job in your organization. Your role, as the business owner and leader, is to create an environment that will empower everyone to innovate.
Seems a bit challenging. For some of your team, this may be easy to accomplish. They’re probably already doing it. But what do you do when you’ve got service workers, middle level managers, people in roles where they don’t feel they need to be innovative? How do you encourage and motivate them?
Let’s start with something called decision rights. Think of decision rights like property rights, except these are rights within your organization. You establish responsibilities and guidelines, and then allow people to take that next step. You give them a certain amount of decision-making flexibility and then you watch what happens.
When you do this, an interesting thing starts to happen. Some people take ownership of their decision rights and start to take action where they weren’t allowed to before. They start to innovate, to change, and develop.
As they are able to take on more responsibility and provide more benefits and value, you give them more decision rights. It’s almost like you give them so much rope that they can run with but not enough to hang themselves.
So, they continue to go along like this and develop and you see who shows up at work, who is present, who really wants to make a difference. You find them throughout your organization, and those folks start to grow and move up.
There are a couple of things going on here that kind of go hand-in-hand with decision rights. There needs to be some constant communication and development, which means you really need to look at a mentoring program.
Mentoring scares folks, but let’s keep two things in mind. First, mentoring is about leading by example. Second, everybody can be a mentor. People learn from all sides of an organization. I may be mentoring but I’m learning. In some ways, while I’m mentoring, they are mentoring too.
Here’s a simple way to look at mentoring; it’s the Hershey Blanchard model. This particular model has four stages to it, which most of us go through when we learn a new job, a new responsibility. You may recognize this from some of your own experiences in a new role.
We start learning through instruction. We have low expertise, with a high level of commitment. We’re being taught as we go along by our mentors and others. As our expertise increases, we begin to experience coaching. We’re feeling more confident and need encouragement and guidance more than instruction; a little less leadership, a little more support.
The next step, support, is really about being supported while making our own decisions. The level of expertise is moving up higher now and our commitment is starting to change. We start to take ownership and move forward. Just like decision rights.
Finally, there’s delegation. We’ve been mentored to where we’re on our own, with a high level of expertise and confidence. Our mentor can now turn things over to us freely. A mentoring success.
Consider this: Your job as a mentor is to replace yourself.
So, orchestrate innovation. Create an environment to spawn new ideas at every level of your company. It doesn’t just appear. You need to make it happen. We have found that employing decision rights and mentoring effectively can get you that much closer to a culture of innovation. It will feed on itself.
In our soon-to-be-released book, The Business Battlefield, we address innovation as one of the key principles that will protect, grow and simplify your business. Sign up for our blog today and we’ll send you our chapter on innovation. Who knows? It may be the best decision you make all week.
And until next time, enjoy!
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