In the book, Imagination Will Take You Everywhere, shaping a mindset of transformation and innovation, you’ll find endless lessons and actionable tools on how to inspire an innovation mindset within your culture. As a by product of this shift in culture, you’ll increase employee engagement and happiness.
According to Gallup, companies with happy forward thinking cultures are more profitable by as much as 20%.
There are some very basic elements to put into place as a part of your leadership and cultural blueprint that will enhance your companies ability to strengthen its culture and elevate its brand and market strength. You’ll find these 7 tips that I leveraged during my 5+ years in Cirque du Soleil in Chapter 7 of the book .
WHO ARE YOU HIRING AND WHY?
It begins by hiring the right people with the appropriate character traits that will understand and enhance your company objectives. As a former Cirque du Soleil performer and team captain for over five years I experienced how Cirque didn’t hire purely based on talent. Talent alone doesn’t get you there. Cirque clearly understood what type of performer they wanted, knowing that the planned to invest months and months grooming that talent to fit within their dream. Cirque wanted positive, energetic and malleable performers willing to be crazy. Willing to let go and try something new and different. Willing to fall off the edge and learn. Positive people generate happiness. It’s contagious. To enhance the element of laughter and happiness, you have to intentionally create an environment that is not rigid and confining. Allow for freedom spontaneity. Shackle your team and discontent will breed.
2. WHAT DOES YOUR CULTURE SAY ABOUT YOUR COMPANY?
At Cirque du Soleil the on boarding process begins by hiring the right people with the appropriate character traits. The new hires are carefully selected through an intense and world-wide search. Talent alone doesn’t get you there. They hire performers that shows not only skill, but also added layer of cerebral and emotional flexibility. Talent must appear to understand and have the mindset to enhance the company objectives (attitude over aptitude). Cirque clearly understood what type of performer they wanted, knowing that they planned to invest months and months grooming that talent to fit within their dream. Cirque wanted positive, energetic and malleable performers willing to be crazy. Willing to let go and try something new and different. Willing to fall off the edge and learn. Positive people generate happiness. It’s contagious. To enhance the element of laughter and happiness you have to intentionally create an environment that is not rigid and confining. Allow for freedom and spontaneity. Shackle your team and discontent will breed.
3. HOW DO YOUR EMPLOYEES FEEL?
Elevate their worth. The best way to demonstrate respect is to trust them and empower them with additional responsibility and challenges. Handing them power or control is the biggest honor you can bestow. Ask them how to get to the finish line rather than tell them how. Listen to their feedback and ideas. Allow those ideas a chance to be planted. Get them truly involved in the process. Make your team feel valued, respected and appreciated.
Cirque clearly defined their culture based on values, vision and mission. Without this foundation it’s hard to create anything influential or impactful. Once the values have been established, an effective communication strategy has to be in place to help your team members understand and embody those values. The biggest pitfall that most companies experience is thinking that their values have been communicated, heard and understood. A series of words on a wall or in a memo is not effective. Words alone only carry so much weight. The values and expectations should be clearly defined during your on-boarding process. They should be reinforced through on going training. Leadership is also heavily responsible to consistently remind their teams… this is best done by example. Leadership needs to inspire employees to live, breathe and become the values. Action not words deliver the brand promise. Hold your leaders and managers accountable to be the example.
4. IS THERE A SENSE OF WORKSPACE WELLNESS?
Build a fun healthy environment that inspires wellness. Endless companies are now understanding and leveraging the value of holistic methods such as: mindfulness, meditation and promoting exercise and healthy snacking. Such practices have shown to heavily minimize absenteeism and provide a more focused, engaged and dynamic workforce.
5. ARE YOU OPTIMIZING YOUR WORKFORCE?
The easiest way to set them up for success is to believe in them. Make sure they know you trust their abilities. Treat them like kings on a chessboard that must be protected in order to win. Don’t treat them like seemingly insignificant pawns. Make sure to give them credit for their work and successes, too. The better they look, the better you look. Trust that process. Trust them.
Always challenge your team to go to the next level. Challenge them in ways that optimizes their existing abilities.
BRING IT TOGETHER: Innovation, culture design and workplace wellness shouldn’t be a stressful situation. Enjoy the hiccups. Laugh at yourself. Fail quickly and adapt. Inspire curiosity. Curiosity is the foundation of creativity, imagination and innovation.
Allow the journey to be organic. Have a roadmap, a plan, yet be highly flexible as you grow and transform. The modern consumer is excited by innovation. Innovation means change, means new and different. Sometimes it will hurt. Teething always does. The only thing that should not change are your chore values. You risk confusing if not alienating your fan base and diluting your brand if your values change. Stay true. Be authentic