Human Resources

'Tolerate Failure'

Startup guru suggests leaders 'talk last' if they want to encourage employees to innovate.

May 13, 2013
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Most ideas in your credit union will never see the light of day, primarily due to a lack of accountability and/or feedback. 
But you can organize the creative world around you and bring more ideas forward, says Scott Belsky, startup guru and CEO of Behance, an online platform for creative professionals. Belsky spoke this week in Chicago at the THINK Conference, sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services. 
To do so, you must have:
  • Organization and execution. Develop a culture of capturing action steps as meetings conclude. This results in increased accountability.
  • Communal forces. Three types usually make up work teams: dreamers, who love to brainstorm; doers, who keep the train running on time and don't like to veer; and incrementalists, who can go back and forth between ideas. You need all three types to innovate but companies also must learn ways to empower one or the other when appropriate. 
  • Leadership. A simple point for leaders to remember, Belsky says: Talk last. If you begin by telling employees what you think about an idea, most employees will agree with you. And that practice does nothing to promote creative thinking.
Finally, tolerate failure. Some businesses even celebrate it within reason. And gain confidence from doubt. If everyone thinks your idea is crazy, it either is--or you're on to something, he says. 

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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 ( 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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