December 11, 2018
Company Culture 30 November 2018
Creating and Implementing a Company Culture of Innovation
Craig Middleton
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The biggest key to continued success in business (and in life) is to never gain a sense of complacency. To be the best, a company needs a driving urge to excel and strive for more. Another way to phrase this is the importance of innovation. Look at companies that have become synonymous with the word innovative--such as Tesla. Tesla has become who they are because they look for ways to do what hasn’t been done before. 

A huge part of developing a culture of innovation within a company is to integrate a learning mentality. 

A college education is hard-won and is a great accomplishment, but should that really be the end of your education? Most industries applaud continuing education, especially as technology changes most of the industries in the country. 

Thankfully, there are a variety of new and nontraditional ways to continue to learn. From learning languages through a university to using Youtube to learn a new hobby, encourage your employees to continue developing their education. 

Remember that although this change in culture may start at the top, it needs to be adopted throughout the company in order to truly have effect. With this in mind here are some sources that can assist you in creating a culture where growth mindsets are encouraged and fit naturally.


Online Courses and Local Lectures

One of the best ways to continue learning non-traditionally is to enroll in a MOOC, or a massive open online course. These courses are offered by some of the most prestigious universities in the world, including the Sorbonne, MIT, and HarvardUsing MOOC websites provides you with free access to courses in a range of fields, from the humanities to STEM subjects. You can even pay a nominal fee and earn a certification, qualification, or, in some cases, even a Micro Masters. Some of the sites are also integrated with LinkedIn, meaning that every time you pass a course, it shows up in your profile.

Nearly every town in the country offers local lectures and readings. As stated in this article, you can find a list of lectures in your area simply by looking at the events calendar of your nearest university. Many libraries and bookstores also hold readings and lectures on a variety of subjects, so you’re sure to find something that you’re interested in.

If you're looking for lectures that are focused on your industry, you can also look at a professional association’s website for lectures held by your local capture. Conferences and speaking engagements are available as well throughout the year.


Apps and Youtube

Apps in the form of study guides are always an ingenious way to learn vocabulary, understand fundamental concepts, and more. Whether you’re beginning to learn a new language or are working to become familiar with the terminology in your career, these mobile study resources can be a game changer for your education.

Apps like Course Hero Free are available for everyone and cover study documents, reference materials, and flashcards. By using a free app like this one and many others like it, you can continue your education free without having to go to a classroom.

While perhaps not anyone’s first guess at being an education hub, Youtube has a surprising number of channels dedicated to different subjects. Ranging from university channels to professors teaching their own subjects, you can find just about any subject discussed in an educational context on Youtube.Earning a degree doesn’t have to mean the end of your education. By utilizing local resources and combining it with online applications, you can continue to educate yourself long after you leave the classroom. 


Mentors

I find this to be the most impactful form of learning. Finding someone who is an expert and can become a close mentor is a paramount strategy in building one’s career. Having access to an expert you know on a personal level and can interact with is much more valuable than a mentor online who is distant and has no personal connection with you.

There is a wealth of knowledge that lies within the dialogue that professionals can have with mentors. Finding a mentor is something that may seem like a potentially unfruitful/unnecessary effort; however, once you find a mentor who is competent and who cares about you, you will be very grateful for the contribution that it will make on the transformation of your career. Try out some of these ways to start learning something new today.


Motivate Employees to Gain New Skills

As an employer, you understandably want your employees to gain new skills and to become more knowledgeable in relevant ways. Some employees may be very motivated to seek educational opportunities on their own, but others may need inspiration or assistance in various ways. 

To lead your employees along a path of continuous self-improvement, you generally need to find what may motivate them as individuals and what may be hindering their efforts. You might be thinking this sounds great in theory, but how does one actually integrate these changers into company culture?  

While self-improvement may be a different experience from person to person, there are some general ideas that may work well for many of your employees. Here is a strategy composed of four tips to help create a culture where training on these educational tools will be effective and taken well.


1. Set a Positive Example

Many of your employees may see themselves climbing the corporate ladder and may dream of eventually being in your shoes or in a similar position. Successful executives and business owners often understand that education and skills are not things that are achieved. Instead, these are areas that successful professionals constantly try to improve in. 

Education is a lifelong process, and you can set a positive example in this area by letting your team know about certifications that you are working toward, special seminars you are attending and more. Another idea is to mention professional books that you have recently read that they may find beneficial.


2. Offer Financial Reimbursement

Even when your employees are motivated to improve themselves, they may not have the financial means to do so. Some working adults worry about how long it may take to pay off student loans later in life. The cost of earning a higher-level degree can be cost-prohibitive, and the thought of spending the next few decades paying off student loans is undesirable for many people. 

When working adults pursue online degrees or attends evening classes, it may take a lengthy period of time before the degrees are obtained and the financial benefits can be enjoyed. However, when the cost of education is offset by tuition reimbursement from their employer, they may be more likely to take advantage of that opportunity. 


3. Provide On-Site Training Programs

Improving skills and education through a higher-education degree program is one option for your team to consider, but there are other opportunities available. For example, your employees may earn a certification by attending a seminar or training course for a few days. You may even offer training on-site if many of your employees would benefit from the same program. While this could cost your company a substantial amount of money, keep in mind that the return on investment can be substantial. In addition, your employees may view this as a perk or benefit of their job, and this may improve your employee retention rate.


4. Discuss Advancement Opportunities

Another way to motivate your employees to improve is by openly discussing ways that they can take their career to the next level. For example, at an annual employee review, talk to each individual about their goals within the company. You may learn that some individuals are interested in a lateral move, and others are interested in taking on a managerial role. In some cases, employees will need to obtain additional education or training in order to pursue their goals. 

By informing your employees on an individual basis about the steps that they need to take in order to achieve their goals within the company, you may inspire them to take essential steps for self-improvement. You may even provide them with insight about how the company may assist them in achieving their goals, such as through tuition reimbursement. 


Conclusion

Regardless the position that employees hold in your company, it is beneficial for you and for them to focus on self-improvement and continued education. Some employees may lack an understanding about what it takes to advance in their career, and others may not have the financial means to pursue education. Take time to learn more about your employees' goals, and use these and other effective ways to motivate them to take action soon.

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

Companies don’t become great by doing the same old things that have already been done. Be innovative. This is best achieved when all employees work in tandem with a growth mindset that compels them to develop a personal mindset dedicated to learning.



Craig has worked in health, real estate, and HR businesses for most of his professional career. He graduated at UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in Marketing. When he isn’t writing or working at his many businesses, he’s spending time with his wife and three children.