If you were asked today whether your workplace factors innovation into how you’re measured on the job, how would you respond? Are you so swamped with day-to-day work that you don’t have time to think beyond your daily to-do list?
If these questions stir up conflicted feelings, you’re not alone. According to Workfront’s 2018 State of Work report, 51% of knowledge workers say their workplace factors innovation into how they’re measured, 58% say they’re so swamped with daily tasks they don’t have time to think beyond their to-do list, and a full 61% say their workplace doesn’t encourage them to set aside time to innovate.
This data highlights a conundrum that’s especially relevant for marketers. After all, a critical goal for any marketing team is to figure out how to tell a story that stands out in a noisy, competitive landscape. How can your brand’s story stand above the crowd if your team members are too swamped to think about the big picture?
Here are three ideas to get more innovation from your team.
- Ruthlessly uncover “fake work.”
On average, workers say that only 40% of their workday is spent on their primary tasks, with wasteful meetings and excessive email being the main detractors to getting things done.
In light of this, you might ask your team to track what prevents them from getting to the most important work of the day, and then encourage them to carve out more time, bit by bit, for that work.
What much could your team accomplish if 70% of their workday was focused on their primary tasks? How about 80%? Over time, a culture that’s focused above all on what matters most can’t help but stand out in the marketplace.
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- Implement streamlined processes.
Once your team has uncovered moments of fake work throughout their workday, it’s critical to help them see ways they can streamline those menial tasks. Are there ways to cut wasteful meetings and excessive email?
One way to do this is to spell out communication best practices across your team. For instance, you might ask people to articulate how a meeting relates to the participants’ primary tasks in each meeting invite. In many cases, you’ll find that written communication may suffice and a meeting isn’t necessary.
When it comes to excessive emails, the situation might seem hopeless. However, teaching your team best practices can help. For instance, you might encourage people to say what they need to say and no more — often using bullet points and direct, clear writing. Help your team remember that team communication is a means to an end. Not an end in itself.
- Formally make time for innovation.
Finally, you might encourage your team to block out time for innovation and long-term thinking, recognizing that teams that don’t do this are prone to fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent.
In this vein, the State of Work report also found that 63% of knowledge workers say that if they just had time to think their productivity would improve, and 54% say their team would be more successful if they were given four hours a week to focus entirely on innovation. People need formal time each week to brainstorm new ways to exceed their metrics.
Above all, by giving your team formal time to innovate (coupled with helping them cut down on fake work), you will establish a culture of innovation — a culture that will be prepared your team for whatever the future of work throws their way.