Every organization is populated with innovative thinkers, but how do you support both individual and team contributions? Teams are built on trust. If your reward process doesn’t distribute rewards fairly, you may make it harder for your innovative teams to maintain effective communication and can even damage the trust you need for teams to function at their peaks.
Make Things Visible for Your Entire Organization
Celebrating the award of a new patent with your team is easy with a great professional display. No matter the size or layout of your facility, a quality display team can help you put up a featured display of your patent history on a patent wall-of-fame for everyone to see as they enter your space. This will also boost morale for your innovative employees!
Invest in Private Wins As Well
Obviously there are different levels of involvement in the patent application process. If you know a project was completed successfully as a direct result of one particular person, a private award given to that team member in a manner they will most appreciate is a great choice.
Tailoring Award Presentations
Different personalities appreciate different forms of awards. Many people would be happy to attend a big party and accept a personalized award for the patent wall in front of the whole organization. For others, this would be akin to torture.
When selecting awards for individuals, be sure to account for their recognition preferences and keep things as creative as possible. Yes, you want to be fair, but singling out winners who don’t care for public events will not be appreciated.
Additionally, take care when offering cash payouts for patent involvement. This can become very costly if you’re trying to reward an entire team. Additionally, for many employees a cash “bump” is less of a reward than the gift of time away from work would be.
Finally, when offering patent awards to individuals who put in time on a patent project, be extremely specific. If one member of the team is being singled out, make sure to reward them specifically for a particular set of actions and make this explanation public to avoid future rifts in the team.
Rewards as Group Celebrations
Offering patent recognition to a team is easier if you poll the team to determine exactly the sort of recognition they’d like to receive! In addition to giving a truly appreciated reward, you can watch this team function on a “fun” project.
Remember, teams function best when roles are defined and members are able to communicate. One fun option when putting together a team celebration is to put the last person hired or lowest person in the hierarchy in a leadership post for a fun event. This simple change could embolden junior team members to function more confidently in the workplace.
Protect And Guard Trust Between Team Members
Innovative thinkers don’t always hit home runs, but unspoken ideas are always failures. Open communication is critical for successful team advancement. When recognizing individual contributions to a team, encourage leadership (particularly leadership in charge of patent plaques and other tangible awards) to cite specific examples of successes and contributions when giving public awards.
In addition, do your best to avoid isolating your innovative thinkers from the rest of the organization. Admittedly, this can be a challenge as innovators can tend to self-isolate. This isolation can sometimes result in a communication silo, limiting your agility and crimping off the flow of ideas.
Communication silos damage your business by
- causing teams to lose sight of the big picture
- forcing people to work towards goals that don’t align with their personal values
- creating duplicate (and unnecessary) lines of work
- damaging trust and increasing uncertainty
Promoting individual recognition and team performance doesn’t have to come from the leadership. Peer-to-peer recognition is a great tool for celebrating all contributions, but there must be good communication within and between departments for peer-to-peer recognition to work well.
Innovative workplaces must engage in a free flow of ideas for the best ones to come to the surface. To get lots of ideas bouncing around so the best ones can clear the net, you need to encourage trust between team members and to establish a place of intellectual safety.
By all means, celebrate your new patents and offer both individual and team awards to everyone involved in the application process. Whenever possible, offer awards tailored to the recipients’ preferences. Finally, remember that individual and team contributions should be well defined so that everyone involved can find their own path to the party!