Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 32 – bringing innovators into a business and keeping them there 15

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 24, 2017

This is my 32nd installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-31.)

I have been successively discussing a set of six bullet pointed topics in this series, starting with Part 27 (with an initially shorter four point list) and finishing with Part 31 (with Point 6 of the full, finalized list):

1. First, you need to reach out through communications channels that the people you seek to reach actively use,
2. Then you need to craft conversation starting messages that will prompt them to reach back to you, and to at the very least look further into what you have to say, and into what you do and are as a business.
3. Then you have to actually engage, and with a goal of starting a conversation – which would lead to these people thinking of your business as a possible next employer, and with their coming to see one or more positions that you have available as possible good next career steps for themselves.
4. And this crucially means you’re learning more about them, just as they reach out to learn more about you.
5. How can you more effectively bring current employees and managers on-board with change in hiring and in personnel policy and practice, as your and their business pivots towards being more innovative – and even in its basic business processes where that would create greater business flexibility and competitive strength?
6. And how can you best enable a smoother integration of the type of change that I address here, into a perhaps very settled existing system and in ways that can increase buy-in from stakeholders and gate keepers already in place – and at a structural organizational level in your business as well as at a more strictly interpersonal one?

And I developed and addressed all of these points essentially entirely from the perspective of bringing in new hires from the outside. Looking back on that, I have to acknowledge a measure of self-conscious irony in that, and particularly when I wrote in Part 31 of seeking out dissatisfied innovators who are currently working for others, with a goal of hiring them away from their current employers.

New innovative hires can come to be vitally important factors in turning a less than innovative business around and for making such an enterprise more competitively creative again. But what of the people who are already there – and the innovative people already on the payroll who see this and wonder why no one seems to listen to them or give them opportunity to be creative too? I have seen this happen. And I have seen businesses lose from among their best people, with the greatest positive potential, because they were pigeonholed as only doing one type of rote work that they also happen to be good at.

I concluded Part 31 with a brief anticipatory note regarding this installment, where I made note of the need to:

• Reconsider the innovative potential already in place in your own business, and the possibility that you and your personnel and management processes, might be leaving at least some of your potentially most creative employees frustrated. Are you setting up your own business for becoming the one that truly innovative new hires leave as they move on to new opportunity, and even with one of your direct competitors? Are you setting up your own business for becoming the one that at least some of your potentially most creative employees would want to leave, and in that way?

So my goal for this posting is to turn the discussion that I have been pursuing in recent installments inward, and with a goal of better identifying and enabling your most creative and capable current employees, and with a goal of giving them opportunity to more fully succeed. And I have to add, this means you’re pursuing the goal of better retaining them too.

Where would you even begin to start this? Look to your managers and with a strong focus on your lower level managers who directly and specifically supervise and direct the work of your hands-on employees, and for what is usually essentially all that they directly do. What do they actually do in their ongoing evaluation and review processes and how quick are they to typecast the people who report to them, as if they were only capable of doing precisely what they are doing in their current immediate here-and-now? How open are they to push the people who report to them, to do more and to learn more and to advance in what they can do? How open are they to employees who seek to do more, and who have ideas that would go beyond their immediate here-and-now tasks and responsibilities?

Now look to middle and higher management, and with a simple (seeming) starter question:

• How are managers: lower level ones definitely included here, being supported or stymied as they seek to identify and develop the creative abilities of the people on their teams?

And be sure to include Human Resources and their policies and practices in this. Where in the overall business, are your personnel-related processes and practices in place, supportive of change and flexibility and of employee enablement? And where are they rigidly limited, and in ways that do not actually reduce risk, and even if they are justified in that or some similar vein?

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will consider the specific details of performance reviews and where and how they are conducted, and feedback and other documentation coming from individual employees themselves. And I will discuss that set of issues in the context of how managers work with the people who report to them and on a more day-to-day basis, and in the context of the employee perspective to all of this. Then after completing that line of discussion, I will switch directions to consider the issues of automation in a human employment context, focusing there on the shifts that can be expected in the overall pattern of employee profiles that most businesses will routinely hire for and seek to retain, and how this will impact on workplace creativity and innovation.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: