There’s no doubt about it: the global marketplace is more fiercely competitive than ever before and most successful entrepreneurs and business owners agree that the old adage has never been more poignant: “Innovate or die”.

theimportanceInnovation is crucial if you’re aiming to grow your market share or you’re focused on staying at the pinnacle of your industry in terms of new products or forward-thinking business models.

Whether it is within product development, talent management or business strategy, innovation is plays an integral role: driving new ideas from the ground up, building new approaches to improve organisational effectiveness, and setting trends with the way in which you do business.

A 2013 study by the UK Innovation Research Center amongst 1202 UK companies highlights that companies investing in open innovation – open for offering as well as receiving new ideas – achieve better business results.

True innovation is hard to pinpoint

Despite having a clear bearing on the overall sustainability of an organisation, innovation can be somewhat intangible, particularly when it comes to the task of attracting and recruiting people who can help your business to achieve it.

A company can provide the right working culture and environment to attract the kind of people who naturally facilitate innovation.

Giving employees on all levels a good amount of freedom to think outside of the box also nurtures an innovative approach, but the ability to form and initiate innovative ideas is by no means an inherent aspect of every team or employee.

The challenge is to find the people who can really push the boundaries. Different people have different skills. Some of us are good with numbers whilst others are gifted linguists.

It stands to reason that some people will be more naturally talented when it comes to developing innovative ideas and thinking in a less traditional, more creative way.

This presents a potential problem for recruiters. Whether or not someone has the ability to innovate and evolve your business is simply not always obvious from a CV. It may not even be something that a person is aware of.

Innovative thinkers are not found by looking through qualifications or lists of educational achievements. The way we recruit has to adapt, if we want to find truly innovative people.

But how?

Creative thinking lies within our personality

A creative, innovative approach to projects and problems and the ability to come up with original concepts are both aspects of personality which are vital in an employee who is to develop or drive any process of innovation – there being many different ‘kinds’ of creativity, too.

Personality and behavioural assessments form an integral part of the recruitment process for our clients, particularly when they want to ensure that innovation is taken into consideration when selecting new employees.

Modern assessments can provide a clear and usable insight into personality drivers behind innovation, for instance, whether a person has the natural ability to bring forth exciting and original ideas, or whether they prefer to stick with the ‘tried and tested’.

To look at the wider picture and to learn more about a person is paramount. In this respect, pre-employment assessment provides a well-validated process which looks at the personality traits and natural behaviours beyond the candidate’s CV and working history, and can help to identify naturally innovative people for your business.

Is the interview process screening innovative people OUT?

Furthermore, it normally falls to the HR department to create freedom and space for candidates to express themselves during the job application and interview process, so that innovative people can be identified, but does your current interview process do that?

Take a moment to think about this. Could it be necessary to take a critical look at your existing recruitment systems?

May they even contribute to diverse and innovative individuals being screened out and ignored, because the candidates don’t have the “credentials” that you are looking for?

To attract the right people who can deliver what you need, the employer brand also has to reflect the company’s drive for innovation. Furthermore, once hired, the new employee needs to understand the innovation channels and their rewards.

Creating a wider remit and a tailored recruitment strategy in this way allows people to show their true strengths and makes it possible to hire – and retain – the right personalities.

This, in return, encourages the innovative juices to flow!

The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation (Robert Iger)

The real issue is that very few people within recruiting believe that they have influence on corporate innovation…
..yet nothing could be further from the truth.

If a company identifies a gap with respect to innovation, the recruitment process can focus on rectifying this shortfall, thereby changing the long-term future of the company. Naturally, this form of decision making must have the buy-in from top level management.

However, with most companies strategically planning for both organic and non-organic growth, recruiters hold the golden key to the treasure chest of innovative talent.

The fact is, the sooner HR departments and hiring managers realise that they can have a major impact on levels of innovation within EVERY single area of an organisation – by the calibre of people that they bring on board – the sooner you can experience what sustainable innovation really means.

Creative people promote innovative ideas

There is no doubt that having staff at the very core of every part of your organisation who are nurtured to provide innovative ideas and think differently, can help a company enormously to progress and prosper. People drive innovation…it’s that simple.

Take Google for example. Since having been floated on the stock market in 2004, shares have soared over 900%.

Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of Google’s People Operations, said that: “Google has been keeping the pipeline of innovation going by tapping its employees and letting ideas percolate up”.

The company’s success is largely attributed to continuous innovation and extraordinary management practices.

It stands to reason that a focus on driving innovation can bring about positive changes for any organisation. It starts with having the know-how to attract, hire and develop the right people in the right way and allow them to contribute their natural innovative talent to grow your business.

Is the ability to identify innovative people a skill worth investing in for you? – Tell us why in the comments section below.

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