We’re currently going through some challenging economic times, to say the least. Nowhere is this felt more keenly than in the world of small business, particularly amongst those that are just starting out.
Now more than ever, startup teams, especially smaller ones, need to be able to adapt and be innovative. But this is easier said than done. How can you help your team to be more innovative? The answer lies in learning and development.
As much as it might sound like an oxymoron, innovation can be taught. It cannot be taught in the same way as maths or history — rigidly, in a classroom, with books. It has to be a more creative process.
A good learning and development strategy is the backbone of any organisation – no matter its size or stage of development. In fact, according to the 2019 L&D Report compiled by findcourses.com, companies that place learning and development at the core of their company culture report higher rates of employee satisfaction, lower staff turnover rates and, as a consequence, choose to link learning and development to promotion.
This is all part of what it takes to create a culture of innovation.
A safe culture of innovation
A big part of any culture of innovation is not being afraid of failure. Sometimes, ideas do not pan out, sometimes they quite simply crash and burn. This is all part of the development process. In startups, it is essential.
Your team should master resilience as a group, which can be a challenge since everyone should accept and support others’ failures. This is great when it comes to helping people grow in the right environment. Assertiveness training is one example of development programmes that can be used in these scenarios in order to build the base of a safe culture.
After all, the iPhone, Microsoft Office and Amazon were all created by companies with cultures that actively encourage innovative thinking. Whilst not every startup will become a global giant like Apple, Microsoft or Amazon, a company culture in which innovation is encouraged and failures celebrated will still make for a happier workplace.
But how do you build learning and development into this?
Building a great learning and development culture
First and foremost, learning and development should be an event, not a necessity. One easy way to do this is to make it a day-long event. Whether you term it an enrichment day, a training day or something else, let your team take a day to train and learn.
You can also make training more of an inhouse thing. For example, you might want to train your team in how to use a piece of software with IT courses. Perhaps one of your team is already familiar with it? Ask them to lead a session where they train the rest of them.
Equally, make learning fun. Learning and development need not only be directly related to job roles, it can also be more fun. If, say, one of your team has an additional language, why not ask them to deliver a 101 course in that language? You could also run group exercise classes for your team.
Learning and development can be an event in itself and this can help foster innovation.
Given the current difficult economic climate, innovation amongst startups is becoming more important than ever before. Fortunately, innovation can be taught creatively.
In doing so, you can find that your team is happier, has higher levels of satisfaction and its members are more likely to stay at your company. But you must also have a culture of innovation in which ideas are encouraged and mistakes are celebrated.
Remember that learning and development can also be fun. It can take on a more social aspect through having your team teach one another. Teaching can also be unrelated to your job — languages, exercise and other sessions can be undertaken.
If you set your startup up in this way then the sky will be the limit for you.
Luke Sandford is a writer and content producer at Educations Media Group. Currently based in Lund, he is originally from the UK and graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2018 with a BA in Education. He has since written for several outlets and has worked as an English teacher, both at home and abroad. Luke’s passion for travelling and experiencing new cultures directly impacts his work as he seeks to create engaging, informative and useful content for a wide audience.