Want an innovative team? First define what innovation means

Want an innovative team? First define what innovation means

Every entrepreneur or manager has a mental image about how they’d like their workforce to look but, in many cases, they’ll expect duplicates of themselves which isn’t always good for an organisational culture. As we discussed before, diversity is a key weapon in a company’s armoury – it leads to better business performance and also promotes an inclusive environment. (What does innovation means?)

Innovation is a prime area of focus for many businesses today. So, if the vision for the staff body is that they all work innovatively, that’s great. Having goals is fundamental, but so is having the skills to hit the back of the net. Just because the boss may be innovative doesn’t mean staff will automatically become creatively-minded. Similarly, if managers aren’t innovative, then they definitely shouldn’t expect staff to think inventively.

The first step in this instance is considering why you want innovation and what it looks like to you. It’s easy to buy into innovation itself because it’s such an omnipresent buzzword but you should know what you want from its implementation. Is that the use of new software to help improve business processes? Is it workers using more out-of-the box thinking? Whatever it may be, focusing on leadership development will be your starting point.

How the team leader thinks and operates will play a big role in building an innovative team. On top of your personal desires, what does innovation mean to your business overall? If the answer is not much, then you’ll need to look at changing organisational culture and that’s a top-down process, which isn’t always straightforward, but the reward will certainly be worthwhile.

Communication in this instance is what’s required to get going. As a leader, you must outline to yourself precisely what you want from the team and then translate that to them. Remember, the staff aren’t mind readers. The crucial thing following this is to lead by example. An old saying it may be but, the head of the team must ensure they practise what they preach in order to demonstrate how they would like specific tasks to be handled.

PwC’s 2018 study on preparing for tomorrow’s workforce surveyed business and HR leaders globally and, unsurprisingly, innovation was raised. 79% of respondents placed a collaborative environment as either highly important or important, agreeing “our working environments are designed to encourage teamwork, collaboration and innovation.” Seemingly you can’t have one without the other – to foster innovation means is to foster teamwork and collaboration.

Elsewhere, the report also detailed that in terms of innovation specifically, 76% claimed “we have avenues present for employees to offer innovative ideas and support them in turning these ideas into action.”

As a leader, you’re in the driving seat to encourage effective teamwork, but a roadmap is needed, so tell your passengers where you’re all heading – or, even better, ask them if they feel like there’s any other routes that should be taken on the way. Ensure they’re not sitting in silence for the journey and in doing so, the results will speak for themselves as innovative ideas will come.

At CharacterScope we’ve seen how powerful open dialogue is. And as our users have understood themselves and their leadership styles better, they’ve better communicated with their teams, who’ve better taken hold of their duties. By empowering yourself through continuous learning and leadership development, you can in turn empower your team as they learn from you.

One way of looking at it as an intrapreneur. This phrase refers to a manager who thinks like an entrepreneur – like a builder. As PwC found, “people increasingly want to feel that their contributions count.” Developing an innovative team, encouraging them to also think like intrapreneurs, can only be a positive thing that will work towards your goals.

Want an innovative team? First define what innovation means

Inexperienced managers? Developing employee leadership

As businesses scale and change, often at a ferocious pace, there is often a need to promote and recruit new and inexperienced managers to lead people and drive the company forwards.

This can bring with it a range of benefits. They often bring a fresh approach, appetite and enthusiasm. There’s also the added fact that they’re often young and can be developed and nurtured. However, if they joined the business as a junior, regardless of how perfect they were for their previous post, they won’t necessarily have the managerial experience their predecessor possessed. So, what are you supposed to do?

In many cases, companies just hope for the best. They hand over the keys to the promoted party’s position and let them learn how to lead on their own, which is not without its risks. The desire to move fast means that support comes more likely when things are broken, in the form of interventions, rather than being ongoing. When this goes wrong, it can have a huge impact on morale, culture and your organisation’s ability to attract and retain talent.

But an inexperienced individual joining the company wouldn’t be left to it, so why would you leave someone without experience of managing peers to chance? Ultimately, if you want your managers to manage, and manage well, you need to ensure they’re equipped and supported to do this as well as they can. The stakes are too high.

Sure, you don’t want to breathe down their necks every two minutes and nor do they want you to – they’re a manager now, right? But the necessary traits they possess that got them the step up the corporate ladder in the first place must be reviewed to see where improvements can be made in order to achieve the best outcomes for the team. 

At CharacterScope, that’s precisely what we’re built for – developing team leaders. Everyone is different and we know that. It’s not about changing who people are, but encouraging and helping them to be the best versions of themselves, sharpening their strengths while understanding where they can advance. You need strategy and direction to lead a business – why not have the same approach for leading a team?

Disrupting talent management is key to a companies development and helping inexperienced managers. Read our HRreview feature article here.

What do you want from a leadership culture? Read more here.

Want an innovative team? First define what innovation means

Want to be an inclusive company? That means understanding your staff

Diversity and inclusion (or D&I) is a topic you’ve undoubtedly read about over the past couple of years. Indeed, the conversation around it has grown considerably in that time as awareness has risen. But even if D&I isn’t something you’ve actively sought to facilitate within your own company yet, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Although more businesses have begun recognising D&I as a workplace concept, the introduction of inclusive programmes has been less than speedy as many bosses are still unclear how these should be implemented, found McKinsey. But as part of a study released last year, the consultancy firm reinforced a fact that’s come up many times: gender and ethnic diversity is directly linked to a better business performance.

Elsewhere, in addition to improved financials, PwC has noted other benefits of inclusion. They comprise a better means of recruiting staff and more internal creativity, with people from different backgrounds naturally putting forward diverse ideas and possessing unique approaches to getting things done.

Indeed, there is an increasing awareness that the value of diversity doesn’t end there. Neuro-diversity, diversity of thought and a diversity of character are hugely valuable to an organisation. Within teams it offers complementary and different ways and perspectives to approach a range of problems and opportunities.

The professional services firm surveyed leaders in charge of D&I strategies at their companies and found that an inclusive culture was more likely to be found at global businesses than regional and local counterparts. However, worldwide organisations were also considered the type of businesses with the largest diversity barriers in the place for progression. Clearly, something isn’t adding up.

Inclusion effectively means opportunities for all, whether that’s during the recruitment stage, for job progression, team-building and so on – it’s something that ensures that people are heard, valued and contributing at their best, regardless of any differences. 

Seemingly the problem is that, in addition to the confusion McKinsey highlighted regarding the implementation of inclusion programmes, companies are misinterpreting both inclusivity itself and their employees. 

Look at the team leaders in your organisation. How well do you really know them? Are they securing fair opportunities to develop? What sort of dialogue has there been between you regarding their performance? If your answers are “Not very”, “No” and “Very little,” a change of tact could well be in order. After all, they’re the ones leading the rest of your workers.

Only by getting to really understand your staff – who they are as people and what their strengths are, can you be inclusive. This will ensure that your people are feeling fulfilled and your organisation is getting full value from them, both individually and in terms of the contribution they’re making to their teams. You will have an organisation full of people that feel understood and playing to their strengths – a culture that’s alive and inclusive.

You can only really know your staff if they know themselves. CharacterScope has been designed to help team leaders to understand and develop themselves and their teams, allowing them to recognise their strengths and to develop the ones that will best help them succeed. It helps them build, shape and guide their teams. Indeed, it’s with this understanding that you can create a more inclusive culture. The benefits are ripe for the picking.

Want an innovative team? First define what innovation means

There is great value in workplace assessments – just don’t hide the results in a drawer

Picture this: Your studies are behind you, you’re now years into your career and decide to apply for a new role. When interview day finally comes around you feel like a student all over again as you’re prompted to complete a series of psychometric tests to decide your suitability for the role. This is a scenario many jobseekers – who perhaps now work for you – have found themselves in at one stage or another.

Of course, not all employers elect for psychometric testing or assessments as part of their recruitment process or even as part of general development initiatives – you may well be one of them who doesn’t. But the general idea behind these tests is that the employer and the employee, can learn a range of things about how they work that wouldn’t necessarily be revealed in a good old fashioned face-to-face interview. Needless to say, that’s a topic of much debate.

Whether your experiences of psychometrics or assessments are as part of the hiring process or even part of some one-off developmental training, in an effort to build self- awareness, there is often a feeling of confusion as to what you’re supposed to do with this information after you’ve finished. The results are filed away in a drawer or computer folder never to see the light of day again. So, what’s the purpose? After all, in terms of recruitment specifically, it’s been proven strong psychometric results won’t always translate positively to outstanding performance once someone has been employed.

How you see yourself or how others see you can lead to some hugely valuable insights and personal breakthroughs, in terms of your own performance as well with your interpersonal relationships. Making these breakthroughs stick has often been difficult in the past. They tend not to be sustained and built in to new behaviours and patterns of thinking. This is the way executives work with leadership coaches, ensuring that these realisations and valuable pieces of awareness are directly linked to structured and long-term development.

The need and demand for this sort of informed, continuous development was evidenced with a recent CV-Library study of 2,000 UK professionals. When asked what their career priorities over the next year are, the top answer at 44.6% was to learn more skills while 43.5% wanted to receive more pay. 

It’s clear there’s an opportunity here. What if your organisation provided ongoing opportunities to develop new skills, but in a way that was linked directly to insights they can leverage from these assessments?

This is a movement we’re promoting with CharacterScope – the chance for your leaders and people to understand and develop themselves on an ongoing basis. We want to make this process the norm.

As a psychologist and executive coach, our founder Mark has seen first-hand the usage of psychometric tests throughout his career and knew there was a better way. The value your people can take from doing these assessments, need no longer sit locked away in a drawer.

Want an innovative team? First define what innovation means

What do you want from a leadership culture?

A leadership culture that sets direction

Leadership culture is formed from the top down. Culture is effectively a self-supporting web of beliefs and behaviours. Over time these become leadership practices and eventually create an environment that attracts people who share their values. It is essential that an organisations culture aligns with their overarching business strategy: if the two are at odds, leaders at the top must recognise that change starts with them.

With a clear shared purpose, culture and values, the entire dynamics of an organisation become much more connected.

A leadership culture that drives development

Leadership development revolves around recognising and unlocking potential: identifying our natural talents, having a vision of ourselves leading, and working to turn that vision into a reality. It is rooted in the mentality that each one of us already has natural strengths of character and that becoming a good leader is driven by service in the area of those strengths. 

Organisations that have a culture of leadership development use these principles to create a widespread understanding of each individuals’ value and unique contribution. This is not dependent on the time or money invested in tools: it is dependent on a culture that provides the right commitment, focus and environment.

Leadership capability needs time and space to grow and people must feel their growth is valued. They also need to be able to openly discuss and reflect on their progress and the obstacles they face and be able to experiment with new ideas. They must feel that management and their peers understand the importance of devoting time to development and have the freedom to do so.

A leadership culture that drives performance

Building a leadership culture goes beyond investing in and mentoring the next generation of high performers. Organisations that prioritise leadership development lead in attracting, retaining, and nurturing the best talent.

Top level leaders that have the self-awareness and put the time and energy into harmonising their organisational culture and their business goals create a more driven and connected organisation.

A developmental mindset empowers that talent to go beyond their comfort zone, with an awareness of their natural strengths. A culture that embeds these principles inevitably drives a company to high performance. It tends to adopt core values. It inspires employee and client engagement. It aspires to lead in its industry. It organically fosters innovation and collaboration while recognising and unlocking potential.

Imagine an organisation full of people that understand their own value, the strengths of their peers and their potential. Where every team functions at peak performance, understands the organisation’s overarching business goals and has a true sense of purpose and direction. This is the catalyst for business transformation.

Want an innovative team? First define what innovation means

What are the leadership qualities needed for a scaling company?

Startup founders and CEOs are often seen as a different breed of leader. Across the board, they are driven by a singular focus — to ensure their business succeeds no matter what, regardless of the pressures and the pressures are not insignificant. From funding rounds, pivotal hires, building a customer base, protecting IP and realising expansion plans, their plates are often full of high-level obstacles to navigate. Not to mention that, in the majority of cases, they’re still involved in the day-to-day running of the business. 

For a founder CEO, one of the first consequences of growth will be to hand over key areas of management to others as the business scales. They will need to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as leadership style, as they start to build out their management team. And this is the first leadership quality they need to exhibit. Growing a business quickly requires the right strategic hires at the right time; and knowing who to entrust with what. As a founder, you cannot be strategic counsel, HR lead, CMO, and everything else in between. So getting your senior hires right and trusting them implicitly is key. 

Ensuring your growth targets are both manageable and realistic is crucial, both in terms of the promises you make to investors, but also how you structure your business and resources.  Putting unrealistic expectations on growth, customer acquisition or revenues could stretch the business beyond repair as well as damage brand reputation. You may not be able to account for unexpected growth – which can take you by surprise – but you can prepare for more manageable expansion. 

Perhaps something most frequently overlooked when growing a business is the importance of consciously building the character and culture of your business. Culture is no longer a mythical, ethereal thing, a ‘nice to have’. It has real world impact, both in terms of employees choosing where they want to work, and by investors assessing the strengths of the businesses they choose to invest in. Toxic cultures in fast growth businesses is now recognised as a legitimate and significant issue.  

Ensuring that, during a fast growth period, that you don’t sacrifice your workplace culture is crucial. While businesses may grow revenues and strengthen their balance sheets, if the office culture is unhealthy, if it is not demonstrating the character that is needed, in terms of resilience, perseverance, bravery or even seeing opportunities or being influential or prudent at the right times, your growth is not sustainable.

Business leaders need to consider how they understand the character or their people and leaders and encourage good workplace culture and how to maintain it, especially in the often chaotic environment of rapid expansion. One of the greatest risks comes from the need to hire quickly.

In a rush to get people through the door, hiring managers may overlook or even disregard character flaws and blind spots that, in ordinary circumstances, would set off alarm bells. And while these hires might come with a short-term gain, they are likely to cause long term harm to the wider team. Successfully navigating these risks starts with truly understanding the character of your leadership team, and proactively setting the tone of your workplace culture.

Too often, businesses don’t consider this at the start of their journey and end up having to do a much more painful journey of retrofitting culture and transformative leadership once things have gone wrong. To find out how CharacterScope can help startups put character and culture at the forefront of their growth plans, check out our product page.