If you’re anything like the ‘old’ me, you spend too much time stressing about work you haven’t finished, and not enough time feeling satisfied about what you have accomplished. In a perfect world, I’d come to work each day with a surplus of innovative ideas and bring each one to fruition by 5 o’clock. But emails are endless, meetings are necessary and delays are just an inevitable part of business. Which is why, despite my best efforts, I still haven’t figured out how to squeeze 40 hours of work into an eight-hour workday.
What I have learned, (thanks to an awesome boss and a few thought-changing exercises) is how to use those feelings of angst and defeat to generate groundbreaking ideas and fuel strategies that I know my team can accomplish.
Every employer strives to create an atmosphere where employees feel empowered to bring new ideas to the table. But, establishing that type of workplace is easier said than done. And if ideas aren’t flowing, it can be hard for your employees to stay inspired.
My own boss, InVerve Marketing CEO Lisa Smith, uses activities like “Lunch & Learn” to encourage and motivate our creative minds. We also celebrate employee anniversaries and commit full days to personal career development and training. This isn’t unique to our industry, though. Most companies have strategies implemented in their business plans to encourage employees, but it’s important to know when it’s time to try a new approach.
That’s exactly what Lisa did two months ago when our team was in a rut.
Turning Goal Setting Into Innovation
Imagine this: Your boss calls a meeting and asks each member of your team to write down three things the business should be doing, but isn’t. Would you be skeptical to participate? We were.
In our minds, the follow-up question was surely going to be, “Why aren’t we doing these things?” and nobody wants to fall into the endless trap that is articulating the demands of your workload. But, after exchanging uncertain glances, we obliged — and then proceeded to read our answers aloud.
Most of our comments weren’t surprising, but as each new answer was read, an undeniable sense of gloom was filling the room.
“We don’t post enough video.”
“We never showcase our own work.”
“We aren’t organized in our project meetings.”
Fortunately for us, the follow-up question wasn’t “Why aren’t we doing these things?” Instead, Lisa asked us to change each idea into a question.
“What types of video should we be producing?”
“Where is the best place to showcase our work?”
“How can we organize our meeting goals and job duties?”
As we read our questions aloud, the group began to provide ideas and solutions to each one. And, just like that, the tone of the room shifted from down and defeated, to excited and inspired. We walked away with several new ideas and strategies for executing them.
1. Write down three goals.
2. Turn each sentence into a question.
3. Share your questions to encourage collaborative thinking and innovation.
Although coming up with innovative ideas is not an easy feat, collaborating with colleagues through exercises like this one can eliminate those feelings — and change the way we prioritize our day-to-day goals. And while I still may not live and work in a perfect world, I’m feeling a lot less stressed —and much better prepared to take on the challenges that each day brings.