Build connections between people
An organization’s ability to innovate is also tied to social connections, especially across disciplines. Research has found that groups with a diversity of perspectives have been shown to outperform groups of like-minded thinkers, in terms of overall performance and especially when solving complex problems.
One of the biggest barriers to innovation is internal resistance to a new idea. Google recently partnered with researcher Spencer Harrison to study how ideas from new employees end up sticking. The study found that good ideas from new employees usually didn’t get very far. But when a new employee partnered with a seasoned employee, their good ideas were more likely to develop into something meaningful, thanks to the extra context, support, and connections of the seasoned employee. To bring more of these overlooked ideas to light, think about how you can help your employees connect with one another.
To encourage and surface interdepartmental connections, any Googler can recognize another Googler with a peer bonus, with the approval of both managers. A peer bonus is a small cash award and includes an email where the nominator can make sure other team members or any Googlers can see the recognition and chime in with their own notes of gratitude.
Peer feedback is another great way to build connections. Googlers receive peer feedback as part of their performance reviews each year, and are encouraged to give and solicit feedback year round with the help of a simple real-time feedback tool. Constructive feedback from others — if given as suggestions rather than mandates — can have a positive impact on creativity which can lead to innovation. This kind of emotional support and constructive feedback is more likely to occur in environments where people feel safe taking risks with one another without fear of punishment or embarrassment. Learn more about psychological safety and how to reinforce it on your team.