Management

Innovation Teams Need Clarity

Create a strong connection between your growth initiatives and your brand strategy.

March 07, 2011
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Innovative ideas, initiatives, products, and culture transformations have little chance to succeed without smart communications, says marketing executive Georgia Everse, writing in a Harvard Business Review blog.

Here are eight traps to avoid:

1. Don’t break ground in the wrong direction. If your organization hasn’t explicitly communicated your core reason for being, you’ll need to start here. Your innovation teams need this level of clarity to guide their efforts and thinking.

2. Don’t lose sight of the horizon. The complexity and uncertainty of forging new ground makes it easy to get lost. Make thinking visible to help teams stay on track and reinforce their goals.

3. Don’t make the process a mystery. Successful initiatives are supported by a well-defined process, which should become the foundation for successful internal communication.

4. Don’t undercommunicate. New projects must be accepted into the operations side of the business. This hand-off often fails because general management, human resources, marketing, communications, and sales teams haven’t been informed along the way.

5. Don’t let cynicism undermine the process. Taking your credit union into new territory of any kind never comes without some healthy scepticism from your positive team players and cynicism from your naysayers.

6. Don’t let key insights hide in a binder. The best ideas are born out of a discovery process that unveils insights into the behaviour patterns of people.

7. Don’t let jargon hide the truth. In most organizations different functional groups use their own languages. Recognize the power of words in getting the development team aligned and achieving the positive results you hope for.

8. If it’s off-brand, don’t do it. There should be a strong connection between your growth initiatives and your brand strategy. The two should inform and sustain each other.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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