7 Ways to Help Your Team Be More Innovative

We all have the ability to devise innovative, world-changing ideas. But without the right place in which to develop and nurture these ideas, they remain nothing more than a far-off dream.

If you want to bring your team's most innovative ideas to life, follow these 7 actionable tips for creating an inspiring and encouraging team environment:

1. Give people permission to fail in certain areas.

Failure is typically associated with lack of competence and poor performance. But in the context of leadership, your team's failure is often a sign that they're working hard, testing new ideas, and taking risks. Giving your team permission to fail in certain areas gives them courage to bring their most innovative ideas to life.

Failure is often the precursor to innovation.

2. Create a safe space to "try" ideas.

Teams often feel expected to devise groundbreaking, revolutionary solutions to every problem that comes their way. All of this pressure for perfection tends to scare people away from sharing any out-of-the box ideas they may have. It's important to create a safe space in which your team members can freely share, discuss, and 'try' out their best ideas without holding back.

3.  Create mini-tests or pilots.

What if my idea doesn't work? Is it worth the risk of failure? This kind of self-doubt is one of the most common barriers preventing people from realizing the worth of their ideas. To eliminate doubts and bring out the best in your team members, encourage them to embark on mini pilots or tests. Trying an idea on a small scale allows you to test its process and outcomes without any risks.

Mini tests determine an idea’s potential without high risk.

4. Take time to reflect.

Every idea deserves a period of careful deliberation and nurturing. To better understand past failures and successes, try asking questions like: "What went well?" and "What should we do differently the next time?" A thorough reflection period is key to improving personal performance and strengthening collaboration.

Every idea deserves a period of reflection.

5. Build a climate of trust.

If your employees are reluctant to share their thoughts, it's not because they don't have great ideas. Rather, it might be because they don't feel safe sharing them. Building a climate of trust makes everyone feel welcome and encouraged to share their most unconventional ideas.

A climate of trust is the cornerstone of innovation.

6. Emphasize collaboration and reward it.

Collaboration and teamwork are essential for devising long-lasting, impactful innovations. However, most corporate rewards come in the form of individual recognition like promotions, bonuses and awards. Rewarding people for collaborative successes emphasizes the importance of teamwork, and promotes a feeling of shared achievement.

Reward collaboration to promote powerful teamwork.

7. Set stretch goals.

We've all faced the stress associated with overambitious projects and unrealistic deadlines. To encourage growth without placing this kind of burden on your team, set stretch goals with incremental milestones along the way. This helps people feel accomplished and proud with each small win, which furthers team collaboration and allows great ideas to flourish.

Set stretch goals, not stress goals.

How do you encourage your team to be more innovative? Please add to the conversation—comment below or on Twitter at @gregbellspeaks.