You’ve probably heard how much fun employees have at innovative companies. Perks might include free lunch on Tuesday, casual dress Fridays, even an on-site bistro that rivals the best one in the neighborhood. In addition, workers are not only allowed, but encouraged to work flexible hours at times they work best to maximize efficiency.
Sounds like a great place to work, right? But innovative work cultures do not come about by accident. Fun is more a byproduct of an innovative, creative environment, than the innovation itself. The truth is: Innovative work cultures require brutal candor and individual accountability. Let’s take a closer look.
We all want to be heard in a planning meeting, but if it’s safe for you to criticize someone else’s ideas, they must also be free to criticize yours! Comfort about “constructive criticism” can prove difficult. While some people have a “thick hide” that doesn’t mind their idea being “shot down” in a planning meeting, others are more sensitive to criticism.
Moreover, in some organizations discussion about opposing views might be reserved, polite – while in others it might involve being more straightforward – as the employee articulately defends his or her idea. The key lies in respect. An employee in an innovative culture can be critical of a colleague while still being respectful of this individual. Don’t beat around the bush, but don’t be overly harsh either. Candid debate is seldom easy, but maintaining an environment that’s professional and respectful of opposing views will help.
Innovative cultures have strong leaders more concerned with results than company hierarchy or an individual’s title. Management provides clear priorities, direction, and goals. Their employees enjoy a high degree of autonomy to pursue innovative ideas. Managers may know flow charts, profit-loss statements and other business acumen, but they also know people. They are not hands-off, locked in an ivory tower, they like to be close to the action.
In summary, innovative cultures are not all fun and games. But organizations in which candor and accountability are present remain great places to work.