June '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 || P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 5 4. Give employees a reason to care: If people aren't feeling con- nected to your company, there's little incentive for them to be innovative. Make sure employees are in the loop from the get-go on challenges and business strategies. Employees who are involved early in processes and plans will be motivated to see them through to completion. 5. Train your staff in innovation techniques: Your staff may be able to bounce an idea around but be unfamiliar with the skills involved in taking a spark of an idea and doing something with it. You may find training sessions in for- mal techniques, such as lateral thinking and mind mapping, worthwhile. Engaging a business coach or a Small Business Development Center instruc- tor can assist in these skills. mization is a euphemism for tactical cost cutting. Innovation is an overall strategy for a business. You also need a well-developed process for con- verting any idea into a tangible or improved prod- uct, or a viable or perfected service that your com- pany can launch, promote, and sell. Let's see what we can do about that. If you waltz into the shop one day and spon- taneously announce, "Starting right now, we are going to be innovative in everything we do," don't be surprised by the bewildered, deer-in-the-head- lights looks from the faces of your team. A shift in thought or approach of this magnitude is always fraught with challenges because people often meet change with resistance. In general, people don't like change. Why? We often resist new tasks that we're not particularly good at or may be foreign to us. People may also resist when they don't know what the personal or professional consequences of their performance may be. Here are a few tips to implement innovation in your business. 1. Engage: Interact with your staff to under- stand how they feel about what you're ask- ing them to consider. After all, they know what's working and what's not; they know what frustrates them and what doesn't. They also know what could be improved and what shouldn't. You may be surprised at how wel- comed your change proposal may be. 2. Initially, set aside your thoughts: When people don't see the need for a change, their natural tendency is to inflict it on them. If you're more interested in making your points and sharing your reasons for change, they won't hear you. Listen for the val- ues in their expressed opinion. For example, if someone says, "This is just one more thing that you are asking us to do to serve our customers," the values in this statement are, "I value serving our customers, and I want to do what I do well." 3. Confirm the values you want to retain: Rather than react- ing to an emotional push back, confirm and acknowledge the underlying values you heard. You might respond with, "You're absolutely right. It's important to serve our custom- ers well, and I understand that you want to do that to the best of your abilities." This creates openness. YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS TRAINER continued on page 111

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