Today, even the most clockwork of tasks, like factory floor labor, can benefit from some degree of innovation and creative thinking. There are even some companies that are taking ideas from individual workers and improving the way things work. This can work well with jobs that are repetitive and subject to automation efforts.
The less people’s jobs can be automated, however, the more you need them to take initiative. When someone’s job isn’t easily automated, there is a need for innovation and creative thought. Despite the evidence of all these studies, few managers are willing to take this leap. Today, only a small percentage of workers feel empowered and act resourcefully; most feel disenfranchised or locked down.
What might be worse is that CEOs and management often feel they are encouraging innovation and creative work. I think managers, team leads, and even the most productive people on a team, often don’t realize how much they can dampen others’ desire or ability to contribute. While some of this might be malicious action on the part of someone, I think often it’s just a lack of understanding and empathy for how others view the world.
To make yourself heard, often we expect you to be a loud, strong voice. That doesn’t always work, but it also seems to conflate the idea of being loud or forceful with competency.
Some of the smartest people I know are those that are soft spoken, polite, and careful about what comments they make. Allowing them to share their thoughts and provide input has often proved to be a good decision on my part.