THE BLOG
07/29/2016 02:05 pm ET Updated Jul 30, 2017

A Midsummer Snowball?

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Too many employees coasting through their work days?

Doing the minimum to skate by?

Spending more time thumbing through their phones than focusing on core responsibilities?

You might have a bigger problem on your hands than you realize. Sure, most organizations experience occasional ruts (especially during the summer) during which employees become bored and complacent. But if that boredom takes root, it can quickly lead to stagnancy - and snowball into disaster:
  • Great employees want to be challenged. They leave boring jobs in favor of more exciting opportunities with forward-thinking companies.
  • Employers with bored employees quickly fall behind. Outpaced and outmaneuvered by their competitors, these organizations may soon find themselves out of business.

Banish boredom - before it snowballs out of control!
Innovation is at the heart of the entrepreneurial mindset - and it's the perfect antidote to boredom. If you're seeing signs of complacency or disengagement, use these hot ideas to melt that snowball:

1. Foster a culture of innovation.
  • Walk the walk. Most entrepreneurial organizations talk about innovation; far fewer make it an actual job requirement. To build the right culture in your company, weave innovation into your mission. Feature it in job descriptions and discuss it in performance evaluations. Look for ways to achieve both incremental and revolutionary improvements in everyday procedures and tasks.
  • Build teams that collaborate well. Not surprisingly, people who work well together accomplish amazing things. Foster internal relationships based on respect, trust, teamwork and shared confidence.
  • Ask for - and act on - your employees' ideas. Make it clear to your team, through your words and actions, that you value their ideas. Discuss them as a group and then implement the best!
  • Encourage risks and embrace failure. To innovate, you often need to take a leap of faith or make decisions based on incomplete information. Outline acceptable parameters for the calculated risk-taking that's part of innovation, and then give your employees permission to test their ideas. If they fail, never humiliate or punish them; help your whole team learn from the experience.
2. Show employees what innovation in action looks like. Get employees' brains engaged in new ways by share amazing examples of innovation. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
  • Surgical robots. In recent years, microroboticists have designed fully autonomous, miniature robots to conduct biopsies, deliver drugs and even perform surgery inside the human body.
  • The 16 million color pen. Scribble is a revolutionary pen that scans the color of any object and converts it into an RGB value. It then custom-mixes ink so you can immediately draw with that color (they also make a stylus, so you can draw on iPads, Android tablets and Microsoft Surface).
  • Warehouse robot armies. Amazon has revolutionized the fulfillment game by deploying an entire army of ottoman-shaped robots. Capable of lifting 750 lbs., their Kiva bots quickly pick and deliver items right to associates for packing and shipping.

Do some research online and find innovation stories that inspire you - and then show them to your team! Present the examples you share as case studies, discussing potential applications in your own organization or parallels in your industry.

3. Hold regular "Innovation Days" An innovation day is typically a 24-hour event, during which employees work in small groups to tackle tough business problems or identify new business opportunities. It's a great way to banish boredom, because it:
  • breaks employees out of their daily routine;
  • encourages individuals to think creatively;
  • facilitates collaboration to develop, propose and then begin to execute creative solutions.

It's also great for your business. By taking a disciplined, systematic approach to innovation, you ensure a steady stream of great solutions to implement, and fresh ideas upon which to capitalize.

Final Thoughts
Inspired employees accomplish more. Care more. And get a lot more done for your business. As the entrepreneur at the helm of your business, be militant about banishing boredom. Create a culture that encourages employees to think outside the box, supports innovation, and provides a framework for executing the amazing ideas your team conceives.