How to create a strong innovation team


Spark Works Innovation Team

A strong innovative team-culture has many long-term advantages for a company. Building a successful and innovative team is about finding the right people with the right mix of professional and personal skills. They can combine their strengths to create new and exciting projects. With the support of a leader, teams who cooperate and communicate well, quickly create mutual trust and respect for each other. Employees combining and executing their ideas increases innovation.

Hiring the right talent and focusing on roles and responsibilities

In a team, each new employee can have a large impact on the company’s innovation capacity. Leaders have to find talent who support their business growth. They also have to consider the shortcomings on the current team’s skillset.

A thorough selection process is necessary, to achieve long-term benefits. Hiring the right talent also includes assessing whether or not a member fits in with the workplace culture and is a team player. Putting together a group of people to work on a new type of project will result in the creation of a unique and innovative culture.

Leaders can look for opportunities to guide their team and create a set of shared guidelines for daily interactions. Although, they have to be careful not to make their requirements too long or vague. Instead, the focus should lie on the specific values and rules that are unique to the team and its innovative mindset. It is also very important for a company to live by its values in order to create harmony in the workplace.

To avoid costs in the long term, roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined and match with what the company truly needs. Ideally, each member’s roles is interdependent and connected, to create a feeling for teamwork. Therefore, workplace culture can be developed over time and leads to a constant flow of new ideas.

Value and respect

Each team member should feel like their job matters and that they bring something special to the table. This increases individual performance and innovation capacity. Employees who feel undervalued check out mentally. Their work becomes mechanical. This causes additional long-term costs for the company.

Respecting team members is absolutely necessary for a workplace culture to function. Employees feel motivated to bring new ideas and their best selves to work every day, adding to a feeling of comfort and safety.

Leaders who don’t listen, steal credit, blame others and don’t trust their team make employees think twice before presenting new ideas out of fear of disapproval. Consequently, this hurts the innovation-culture. Instead, leaders should be role models for behavior and mutual respect.

Branded Shoes
Spark shoes for the team

Communication and feedback

Communication adds value to the relationships between the team. Keeping a good level of transparency is key for a more productive workflow in an innovative environment. To support open lines of communication, making use of apps like “Slack” as well as weekly check-in meetings bring everyone up to speed on what the team is currently working on. Talking with co-workers beyond their to-do lists also generates innovative ideas.

Discussions are necessary to hold everyone accountable for their work. They are essential for solving daily misunderstandings. To keep this kind of conversation under control, participants should make sure to never make statements which include assumptions regarding the drivers behind a co-worker’s behavior.

In order to give each team member a voice, an open channel for feedback is essential. This increases engagement and brings the team closer to projects. Feedback enables ongoing improvements, as long as it is kept proactive.

Setting goals and making a plan

Setting short and long-term goals helps a team visualizing every task and solidifying the big picture. This ultimately leads to generation of innovative ideas for further growth. Setting milestones and deadlines gives co-workers the opportunity to collaborate with each other in order to be successful.

Goals have to be precise and measurable. Creating a clear roadmap and prioritizing certain steps are essential tasks for leaders. Once the plan is set, leaders have to keep reminding their co-workers the priorities.

Empowering employees to make their own decisions means, giving them the necessary freedom to recognize the root of an issue. Therefore, innovative solutions can be pushed.

Team Workshop
Lego Serious Play workshop with the team

Celebrate successes and reward

Celebrating successes and milestones allows co-workers to see that team work is worth the hassle and can result in great innovative projects. Genuinely acknowledging single team members in front of their colleagues makes each person feel appreciated and visible. This builds loyalty and trust. Celebrating is about taking a step back and reflecting on your accomplishments and lessons throughout the learning-process.

On the contrary, if a team fails at a specific task, leaders should encourage redirecting efforts to come up with new solutions as a team.

Team celebration

Get to know the team

Monthly outings or out-of-office socializing gives team members the chance to value each other for more than just the job they do. No one is forced to become best friends on a personal level with work colleagues. But getting to know team members outside of work increases understanding of each other’s style of work. Embracing differences and helping team members are parts of the process, as is learning what defines each other’s strengths.

As for leaders, taking the time to get to know their team increases their knowledge in what is required to motivate them beyond expectations in order to encourage innovation.

Be aware of processes

Having well-defined processes decreases frustration in employees because they don’t have to solve the same problems multiple times. This also means, they can focus on generating new ideas. Once each team member’s mission is clear, working processes help achieve sustainable growth, because new employees can get on-boarded more easily.

By Carolina Garcia Heusser, Social Media Intern



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