In a recent post I pointed out that innovative organizations enable employees to take risks because their culture creates an atmosphere of safety and trust.  I am not advocating risky behavior.  Neither am I suggesting that employees should be free to innovate without accountability.  I am pointing out that organizations ought to welcome new ideas without causing the employee to be seen as being ignorant, incompetent, negative, or disruptive.

With that caveat out of the way, please note that I use the term “enable” not “allow.”   It should not be risky to suggest something new.  Is it really  something really risky if an organization allows it?  To me when leadership allows an employee to propose a risky strategy (suggest something new) it is like saying, “I don’t trust you.”

As I reflected on what it takes to create a safe and trusting environment I realized that an organization must understand itself to create such an atmosphere.  An innovative organization must have a clear idea of what type of risk is acceptable.  It must know how much risk it can tolerate.  Every employee in the organization must know where these lines are.

It is imperative for an organization to be clear about their identity and behave consistently with that identity.  Consistency reinforces safety and builds trust.  For employees to be successful they need to know the goals of the organization and the expectations of leadership.  If employees cannot express these it will have an impact on their performance and it probably will not be positive.

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