Creating a Safe Environment for Increased Innovation


Do you work in a safe environment? By that I mean, do you feel supported and encouraged to share ideas and concepts for how the business and/or your department can be more productive?

In an article called Six Habits of People Who Bring Out the Best in Others, one of those habits is creating a safe environment for their employees.

People who bring out the best in others give people permission to think, speak, and act with reason, says Liz Wiseman, author of Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work.

“They generate an intensity that demands high-level work from the team, but they also have a high tolerance for mistakes and understand the importance of learning along the way,” she writes. “So they create mental spaces in which people can flourish.”

The best teams involve ideas from everyone around the table and as leaders, we need to create an environment where even the quietest person on the team feels like they can contribute. Bruce Kasanoff, contributor for Forbes has this to say on the subject:

“Your role in life is not to be the smartest or most capable person in the room. Your role is to interact with other people, to collaborate with other people, and to foster talent in other people.

Many of the most talented people you meet will be utterly different than you; they will think differently, act differently, and talk differently. They may be loud when you want to be quiet, and they may be quiet when you are searching for input.

Your greatest challenge is to see past your own biases to spot a light burning inside a package that may at first make little sense to you.”

Encourage your employees to share their ideas. Make sure your “open door” policy is real and not just an HR term. Ask for thoughts and then fully listen before commenting. Avoid the urge to “yes but” the ideas that are shared.

What is “yes but?”

It is when someone responds to an idea with:

“Yes, but we’ve tried that before and..”

“Yes but, we don’t have the budget for…”

“Yes, but, I don’t think you truly understand the…”

“Yes, but that will never work because…”

There is nothing that can quickly shut down idea sharing and creativity that a leader who “yes buts.”

If you are not the manager or leader in your department and wish you were encouraged more to share your ideas, make sure you have a private conversation with your immediate supervisor. They may not even realize that idea sharing isn’t welcome. Start by privately asking for the opportunity to share your ideas. Request that a portion of the team meetings include a request for ideas.

Or if you are really shy, ask for a Suggestion Box for the department where ideas can be shared anonymously. The bottom line is that great leaders will want to create a safe environment where employees feel encouraged to share their ideas. You never know when a simple idea will lead to greatness.

Check out this story about a Dad who had a simple idea that has lead to millions.

JJ DiGeronimo JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.

Check out JJ’s new award winning book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.accelerate your impact

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JJ DiGeronimo

JJ DiGeronimo

Speaker, Author & Thought Leader for Women in Tech & Girls in STEM.

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