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Lessons From the Ivory Tower

In the world of academia and academic publishing, giving and sharing credit are hallmarks of the trade -- and the driving force behind innovation. It is this very tangible recognition of their work that is the coal for the creative engines (or perhaps I should say ethanol for the hybrid cars) that are the professors and the researchers in the field.

Too often in the business world, a team's work goes unnoticed while CEOs and other managers receive credit for the diligent research, creative thinking and long hours of their underlings. Consequently, much of the expertise and worth of team members is unrecognized, untapped and not adequately shared with the rest of the group. While managers would argue that their staff is paid well for humbly completing their task, true innovation is almost always spurred on by the promise of achievement, career development and, yes, recognition.

Managers can get more out of their team by giving individual members the chance to be in the limelight, even if only for a brief moment. Here are a few basic ways to shine a light on the brain power of your team members:

  • Training Seminars â€" Ask team members who are experts in certain areas to share their knowledge with the group in a training environment, almost like teaching a short college class. Not only will it breed respect among the members of the team, it will help skills and expertise spread through the group.
  • Research Papers â€" A less unnerving and less confrontational way for team members to share knowledge and show the rest of the group that they work hard and keep up with the industry goings-on. This is also a great and pressure-free way to bone up on some of the intricacies of your trade.
  • A Team Blog â€" Somewhere that team members can contribute their thoughts and ideas in a conversational setting. It allows for people to span task boundaries, offering what they know about areas that might not sit within their job description.
  • Presentations â€" Choosing people to share their relevant expertise with employees outside your group will not only showcase your talent for hiring bright people for your team, it will also help people understand just what it is your team does for the company. Also, it gives the presenters a chance to stand out on a bigger stage.
  • One more tip: The more reticent and perhaps less experienced members of the team may be hesitant to put themselves on the line, so it's good to allow for supporting roles as well, so they can become more comfortable in the spotlight. While academic journals recognize the primary author or authors of a study, they also cite secondary authors, allowing the researchers who do much of the grunt work and contribute ideas and opinions to the paper to get credit as well.