Many organizational leaders will say they support innovation in the workplace and they want their employees to take risks bringing better results and making the organization as agile as possible. But when it comes to action, only few would be ready to do what it takes: a high level of trust that seems like a loss of control. Embracing risk means regularly rewarding new ways of thinking and acting and encouraging your employees to move out of their comfort zone.
We could talk a lot about encouraging a culture of innovation. But here are the three most important things that have to be done inside an organization to encourage risk-taking
First, grant permission. When we give people instructions, it creates dependence. When we give them intent, it creates independence. The key to your employees becoming more proactive and willing to walk the extra mile rests in giving them a tool they can use to make decisions at a higher level than they could before, so grant them permission. Coworkers need to regularly give permission to each other and to get permission from their managers to offer new ideas and to try new approaches. Having real control over their work inspires them to be engaged and motivated.
Second, embrace failure. If you give people permission to make decisions but you penalize them for not achieving a specific goal, you send a pretty strong message they should avoid risk taking at all costs. Encourage employees who’ve taken risks by rewarding their attempts and then help them to understand the mistakes they made by giving constructive feedback to avoid repeating the same mistakes again.
And third, focus on the problems that need to be solved and the results to be generated rather than giving detailed instructions on what should be done. Let them take necessary steps to accomplish the goals. Focusing too much on the process is guaranteed to force people back into their safe zones.
Remember, encouraging a culture of risk is a journey, there is no point where you should stop. Be balanced taking enough risks to foster innovation but not too much risk that the organization’s success becomes in question. If you encourage an environment of granting permission, embracing failure, and focusing on results you will have the groundwork for an organization that is able to continually work to enhance its ability to innovate.5