Well that is a big question isn’t it? It’s also one I hear often when I’m running workshops. My main feeling is one of sadness. How sad it is that members of staff have ideas that they don’t feel able to share with their employers. Let’s have a think for a moment why might that be.
Why would staff not share ideas with the boss?
I often hear it’s because previously when either they or someone else has done this they are dismissed immediately as being of little value or importance. Often they are told it’s not their job to have ideas, only to implement the ideas of others. Lovely, how to make someone feel part of a team(!)
In addition, they may have put ideas forward in the past where those ideas didn’t work, or they have seen other people’s ideas cause problems and in some circumstances lead to that person being moved on from the company. Again, a great way to make others feel willing and able to share!
Then you have people who have an idea but don’t have the confidence in the idea or themselves to highlight the idea with their boss. This is about helping staff to feel safe in bringing the idea forward, that they and the idea will be supported and not judged.
Plus you have some staff members who have a vague idea but it isn’t fully formed yet. This is such a shame as often it just takes someone talking through the idea with them to help them form it into a clearer and more cohesive plan which they can then happily take forward to their boss.
What can you do to encourage staff to bring ideas forward?
Help them to feel it is a safe environment where ideas can be put forward without judgement. That everyone will help to develop the idea and move it forward and that if it fails it will be used as a learning tool, not an opportunity to apportion blame.
Create sessions either as part of your regular team meetings, or dedicated sessions, where you facilitate discussions and provide open opportunities for people to put forward their ideas for discussion in a positive and constructive way. When done regularly this will enable staff to see this is a suitable and safe time to put forward their idea.
Why do you want staff to bring ideas forward?
Often staff members will have ideas which senior team members may not have because they are more involved in the day to day delivery of your service or product. They will often hear the comments of purchasers and suppliers about what you can do to improve, who else they are working with and how that relationship differs. They may also hear the reasons why people do and don’t work with you and do and don’t work with others. All these conversations are often triggers to generating ideas which can be used to improve something, develop something in a different way or create something new.
Your staff can be a real asset in helping the organisation to become a more successful, profitable and stable organisation for the future. They just need to know you want to hear their ideas.
Need help to get ideas from your staff or to develop a safe culture for idea sharing? Then call me to discuss my workshop on developing ideas for your organisation on 02921 175020.