At least once per quarter, every organization should do a company-wide analysis to determine where it is most vulnerable and most lacking. What may be obvious to your employees may not be obvious to you. When you recognize these weaknesses quickly, it’s then possible to fix them before they become a severe and expensive problem.

This exercise must be done correctly so as not to make your employees feel uncomfortable in identifying these weaknesses and vulnerabilities nor should they feel threatened should they occur in their department.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to make sure that doesn’t happen. First, let everyone know this is for the benefit of the entire company and employees will be rewarded, not punished, for both identifying the problem and developing remedies to fix it.

Second, clearly identify this as a company problem, not an individual, department or team problem and is everyone’s responsibility to help rectify it.

ENCOURAGE INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY

The old rules of running a successful business are dead… bury them. Only those companies that accept change and can adapt to it will survive. Things are not only changing, they’re changing throughout every department and they’re changing at an increasing rate. Therefore, it is imperative that as part of your culture you train your employees to not only accept change, but to welcome it because only then will they recognize that with change comes opportunity and with opportunity comes excitement, creativity and innovation leading to achievement, recognition and success.

There are many ways to encourage this. First, is research to get a jump on what’s happening in your and related industries. Encourage all employees to read trade journals and blogs in their and surrounding fields but recognize that oftentimes a discovery in one field, leads to new discoveries in unrelated fields so encourage your employees to develop a wide range of interests.

Second, have your employees share their “discoveries” with each other just for the fun of it. It’s much more fun and productive than discussing the Kardashians or the latest sports scores.

Next, give your employees some latitude to develop personal projects of their own choosing. Encourage them to share their ideas with other employees and partner up to develop the idea… whether or not it will have a direct bearing on your own company. Yes, some of these projects may become the foundation for a new business and you may wind up losing some of your most valuable employees but who’s to say you wouldn’t eventually lose them anyway. Plus, that may be the price you pay for elevating the morale and creativity of the rest of the team and who knows, one of them may just help create a product that becomes your biggest source of loyalty, revenue or profit so be sure to attach rewards for the idea and its development.

There are many other ways you can think of to do this but just in case you’re not the great creative thinker you thought you were, simply offer a contest with a substantial reward to the employee or employees who come up with an idea to increase innovation… that’s truly a benefit of having a strong culture. With a strong culture you develop a strong team and with a strong team the pressure is off you to be the only source that drives the company forward.

You will be amazed when you discover the talent that resides inside your company. Give all your employees the opportunity to express themselves, let them show off and take center stage. A few will rise to the occasion first, these will be followed by others which will then encourage the entire company to open new relationships, develop stronger bonds with existing ones and result in more creative and collaborative ideas leading to bigger and more profitable projects.

Most important, small, loosely knitted groups will evolve into more committed teams with a greater sense of pride for having created projects and programs not dictated by management. And when those not imagined projects by management come to fruition, the company will often reap benefits not imagined by management either.

Then, you can reward both management and non-management, not for creating a product but for creating an environment that made the creation of that product possible.

When your employees just go to work only to help someone else achieve their dream, their own dreams diminish and they become either uninspired and ineffective or highly motivated… to find a company that will give them more attention.

Your best employees desperately want to have a voice in the direction the company is going and how it’s managed. They need to be assured that senior management is listening and evaluating their proposals.

Your company will enjoy a much greater level of success when your employees are given more latitude and are less constricted assuming you hired talented people who fit well within your culture.

Management needs to open its own eyes to see the talent pool before them. Good ideas come from a variety of sources and individuals and the more you encourage this, the stronger your culture will be and that will result in more talented people who will want to work for you because they know the company values them.

Innovation

Does your company welcome and encourage employees to make suggestions or develop new ideas? How often do you revise your policies and procedures? What type of recognition and reward policies do you have in place to encourage your employees, at every level, to be more creative and innovative? Is your company recognized as a leader in its industry? Are you at a competitive advantage or disadvantage in attracting new hires or developing new clients?

If you haven’t answered positively to all the above, it’s time to do an audit. Identify those areas in which you are deficient and develop policies and procedures to overcome those deficiencies.