The biggest barrier to innovation? It may be your managers

Companies may be their own worst enemy when it comes to innovation, research suggests. In a new survey by global staffing firm Robert Half, CFOs cited too much bureaucracy (30 percent) and being bogged down by daily tasks and putting out fires (27 percent) as the biggest barriers to innovation. These obstacles may also have the potential to hinder hiring efforts. In a separate survey, 87 percent of workers said a company’s reputation for being innovative is an important consideration when evaluating potential employers.

Do

Don’t

Step away from your usual assignments and set aside time to brainstorm with your team. Host internal events where employees can present creative business solutions to company leadership.  

Put creative thinking sessions on the back burner due to a lack of time or the daily grind.   

Remove unnecessary red tape. For example, simplify project requests and approval processes.

Restrict idea sharing for meetings. Be accessible and create a collaborative environment where employees can freely offer suggestions.

Hire additional staff if heavy workloads are consistently getting in the way of innovation.

Stretch your team so thin their only focus – and measure of accomplishment – comes from crossing items off their to-do lists.  

Be patient; new ideas take time to flourish. Make innovation an ongoing focus, and provide your employees the support they need to realize their vision.

Place unrealistic expectations on staff. It can take weeks or months to see results, particularly if you don’t give them the necessary resources or help with prioritizing tasks.

If jobseekers are looking for innovative organizations, employers may want to prioritize creating the space for workers time to be creative thinkers and problem-solvers. And not only is innovation a talent magnet, it’s also a catalyst for employee development and retention.

HR can encourage innovation by eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic procedures that keep employees held up by red tape. It’s important to solicit ideas from workers on improvements in this area, too. Employees — who have likely already implemented changes to improve their own workflows — may keep innovative ideas to themselves if no one asks for their input.

HR can work with managers to rearrange schedules, lighten workloads and make other temporary changes that will encourage new ways of thinking and operating at work. In some organizations, such changes may mean an organization-wide rework of how productivity is measured in order to allow more flexibility.

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