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Innovation SOP: How Chief Innovation Officers Can Develop Trust Between Work Teams

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Qmarkets’ Innovation Standard Operating Procedures (SOP): In this series, we will present different guidelines on how to bring innovation theory to practice. This week, we take a look at Trust Development – how to successfully develop trust among your employees, but more importantly, between the employees and the Chief Innovation Officer.

One of the biggest factors for successful innovation within enterprises is increased collaboration. Breaking down barriers and building trust is vital for free-flowing innovation and process improvement.

As many Chief Innovation Officers have discovered, however, forging positive bonds between individuals and teams is not as easy as it sounds. In the course of our experience running idea management platform software for scores of enterprises, we’ve found that there are five main challenges that face CINOs in increasing collaboration between work teams.

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Challenge #1: Cultural fit

 

With greater diversity in the workplace comes increased risk of incompatibility and crossed wires between colleagues from different cultural backgrounds. A heterogeneous workforce brings more innovation, but also raises obstacles to successful collaboration in the form of opposing principles, values, and workforce behaviors.

Chief Innovation Officers need to strive to understand the motivations and communication styles of their employees. Carrying out team-building exercises can bring greater compatibility between workers. Of course there is no need for everyone to be the same, but an enterprise does need its staff to be able to understand each other, and most importantly, to respect each other.

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Challenge #2: Consistency

 

It’s important that a team feels that all the members are consistent in their expectations and assessment of the importance of issues. For example, if colleagues all rank priorities consistently, then they will respond appropriately when a team member tells them about an urgent issue. A level seven problem should mean the same to every team member.

Employees should trust each other enough to be able to take what they say at face value. Instead of trying to mine someone else’s suggestion for deeper significance or hidden meanings, workers need to listen to and accept each other’s communications. It’s up to the Chief Innovation Officer to choose an idea management platform that keeps all employees on the same page for expectations, reporting, and problem-solving strategies.

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Challenge #3: Interdependability

 

It’s vital that team members feel confident to ask for and give each other help whenever needed. Frequently, teams are assembled across departments and include external members to carry out specific projects. Without any history of working together, team members may feel nervous to expose their vulnerabilities by asking for help.

The CINO has to meld the team to a sense of interdependability to optimize process improvement. The ideal image is that of the Three Musketeers: each with their own personality, they carried the motto of “All for one and one for all!” By utilizing joint rewards as well as team-building games, Chief Innovation Officers can help build a supportive atmosphere in which employees feel safe relying on their colleagues.

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Challenge #4: Confidence

 

Hand in hand with interdependability comes the confidence to rely on fellow team members to fulfill their individual responsibilities. The more people involved on the team, the more difficult it is for each member to trust that every other member will pull their weight. The risk could go in one of two directions: either the team ends up with incomplete tasks since everyone thinks that someone else is going to get the job done, or team members end up treading on each other’s toes, replicating efforts since they worry their colleagues won’t carry out their tasks.  

A Chief Innovation Officer should orchestrate confidence by creating mutual dependencies within the team and taking advantage of natural connections. The CINO needs to make clear what each person should be doing, while encouraging employees to trust each other to carry out their assigned role.

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Challenge #5: Communication

 

Teams assembled from across multiple departments face the scenario of each employee fighting to maintain the upper hand by withholding information. A common analogy is that of a poker game, where each player views every other player as an opponent. Chief Innovation Officers want to create a team which views itself as playing bridge: bridge players view each other as co-players who need to share their information so that they can win together.

In many ways, strong communication underlies the other challenges to developing trust within a team. CINOs need to be constantly alert to opportunities to improve communication between individual employees, as well as across departments and teams. By communicating clearly and openly, employees can gain confidence in each other’s reliability and increase their willingness to depend upon each other. Increased consistency and improved cultural fit can also only be achieved through honest communication.

How Qmarkets Can Help

The first step to overcoming these five challenges of cultural fit, consistency, interdependability, confidence, and communication is to utilize the right tools. Qmarkets’ idea and innovation management platform encourages collaborative work by providing a single location for all innovation sharing. CINOs can establish common goals for all employees, improving consistency and helping team members feel confident that they are all on the same page.

Qmarkets improves internal communication all the time, nurturing a culture of trust and collaboration throughout the enterprise. With better task management, Chief Innovation Officers enjoy enhanced process improvement and can easily assemble dynamic teams for any purpose. In this way, enterprises can overcome barriers, increase compatibility, and promote interdependability across the board.

It’s clear that the right idea management platform is key to empowering CINOs to develop trust and collaboration between work teams. Investigate Qmarkets’ options now to discover how to optimize innovation in your enterprise, from ideation to implementation.

 

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