There are people in your organization who know how to tackle its biggest challenges, improve customer service, expand product offering, and reduce costs. Not all of them sit in the executive suite. Every employee within an organization is a valuable resource with knowledge about your customers, products, competitors, and processes. Companies that are able to make innovation and improvement part of the culture do so by leveraging employee ideas and insights across every function and rank. Here’s how they get more ideas for improvement.
If you really want to identify and act on the best employee ideas, leaders must actively and enthusiastically ask for ideas. Waiting for employees to simply speak up or assuming that ideas will naturally percolate up the chain of command is not a good strategy. You must actively demonstrate to the entire team that employee ideas are a valued and necessary part of the company’s strategy for success. When employee ideas result in improvement to the business, that success should be communicated broadly and with appreciation.
It is essential to look for innovation from every part of the organization and to accept cross-functional input. Sometimes, it is easier to get creative when thinking about something that is not normally your role. Collaboration between departments is an essential element of improvement and a great way to broaden each person’s scope of knowledge about your business.
Employees will be generous with their ideas and engagement if they believe that senior management will pay attention and help them take action. Trust must be established over time through open, two-way communication and feedback. No one likes to see their best ideas poorly executed, or worse, ignored, so be transparent about the how employee ideas are considered, executed and recognized.
It is important to measure the results of employee ideas and understand the ROI. Otherwise, it is difficult to sustain long-term management interest. For many ideas that are implemented, there will be a clear desired outcome that results in hard benefits, such as additional revenue or reduced costs. Many ideas will impact the bottom line less directly, by improving customer experience or creating a more fulfilling workplace.
Harnessing the power of employee ideas has enormous potential to help every organization innovate, develop competitive advantages, delight customers and enhance operations. The best results are achieved with deliberation, open communication and structure. To help, we created and recorded a webinar:
Watch this free webinar to learn:
- how to discuss ideas constructively with employees
- how to prioritize ideas (and if that's even necessary)
- how to assign responsibility for improvement work
- how to create time for improvement
- how to track improvements