One of the many qualities of a good leader is the ability to bring fresh ideas and innovations to the organisation, as well as to find ways to encourage employees to experiment and create progress.
But it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of the business and forget to take note of some easy steps to make life easier and, at the same time, help employees achieve goals too.
The Huffington Post Australia asked two leadership experts to share their tips for leaders who might be looking for ways to nurture employee innovation in some simple ways.
International keynote speaker, business and leadership consultant Rowdy McLean and Glenn Broadhurst, GM, Global Digital and Direct, Cover-More Travel Insurance, both agree that time management is key and most meetings are a waste of time.
How To Manage Meetings
Most meetings are a waste of time and take people away from what they should be doing. Leaders should change this completely if they want their teams and organisation to be more innovative, efficient and effective.
- Start on time no matter what and make anyone who is late explain to everyone else why they were late. Do this a couple of times and no one will ever be late.
- State the finish time and always make it 10 minutes before you really need to finish. Tell people anything not discussed by the finish time will have to be held over or left out. Watch how people fight to get ideas on the table :)
- Take out the chairs. Make people stand and the meeting goes faster.
- Don't invite the innovators and the executors to the same meeting. Let the innovators thrash out ideas without the executors going "that's too hard" or "that won't work" and killing off the ideas. Once you have the ideas you want to make happen, get the executors to a meeting and ask them how they will make the ideas happen. They will be 1,000 times more productive!
"Don't accept a meeting unless there's some kind of an agenda. You'd often need senior management to sign off on a $1,000 spend. But what about the cost for wasting the time of busy executives for over an hour without a clear purpose of why you're there?"
"Allocate time in your schedule for trouble shooting - challenges will arise, and often it's not the problem itself that's the difficult part, it's fitting in the time to fix it, and then still doing all your other work."
"Work out quickly what you can delegate. When I have a meeting, I have a grid system for taking notes. These then give clear actions: What I need to do. What someone else needs to do. Once the meeting is completed, it's then simple to delegate within five minutes what the others need to do. Then I add my tasks to my own to-do list."
Keep your goals crystal clear
"If you've read Good to Great by Jim Collins, you'd be aware of the BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goals. I believe if you are a strong business with healthy profits and a good solid foundation, you should absolutely do this."
"However, if your business or team is going through a tough time BHAGS are useless. Your goal needs to be the thing that drives your success. Improving sales, maintaining costs, delivering on a product or project. It's better to focus on the smaller goal that will deliver you immediate results than focus on the Big Hairy Dream."
"If we're working on a campaign to let our customers know about a new deal that we have that'll make their travel experience more tailored, it's easy for the team developing it to get caught up in the creative concept of a game or promotion. Distracted by the minutiae, they miss the broader goal that may be as simple as sending an email to our customers."
"In the modern world, things move fast, super-fast. So, you have to have a consistent strategy for keeping your whole team on the same page. Send out a Monday morning email with dot points on what happened the week before and what's on the horizon this week. Be consistent, short and sharp so people expect it and actually read it."
Outsource and spread a wide net
"Always be on the lookout for great operators, no matter what industry they're in. Our world might be digital but we need people with marketing, financial, communications and analytical skills to continue to take our business to the next level. Network broadly and ask a lot of questions from any executive that you meet. You'll always learn something."
"The advantage of outsourcing is that you can bring in expertise that you don't have for a short time and know the cost. The disadvantage is someone has to manage them and they will not fit the culture. If you want a fast innovation fix I would go with an outsource solution. If you want to be innovative in the long term it needs to be in house and built into your strategy and culture."