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How to Generate Ideas from Employees
Generating great ideas from employees is very easy. As entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders, and managers, we need to employ people in our different organizations to serve in different capacities. We know that we need them as they are crucial to the proper running of the organization. Most employers however are not sure of how to generate entrepreneurial ideas from their employees.
Getting the Best Ideas From Employees
Others are tempted to think that innovative ideas can only come from the management of the company or the creative department. This train of thought limits the potential of the company.
There are various benefits that can be derived from allowing employees generate ideas, some of which are:
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How to Get More Actionable Ideas from Your Employees
• Higher Productivity
An employee whose thinks his options, suggestions, and investment ideas are valued by his boss and organization will have a sense of belonging. This will boost his satisfaction in his job and motivate him to do more. Motivated employees rarely absent themselves from work. This results in higher productivity for the organization leading to more profits.
• Innovation and Creativity
It is easy for an organization to get stuck in a rut when they are out of fresh ideas to move the business forward. Employees are usually in touch with the customers and may see what management may not be able to see. This puts them in the position to offer valuable, sometimes unconventional ideas that can move the company forward.
• Cohesion and Cooperation
A workforce that believes that management listens to their suggestions and ideas is more likely to cooperate with the leadership. This creates a unified work environment and is beneficial to everyone. This bridges the gap that exists between the employers and employees in many organizations.
So, below are practical ways you can get more ideas from your employees.
1. Be Accessible
If your employees have to be put on hold for days or a week before they can meet with you to share their ideas, then you are not accessible. New ideas are volatile things. When your employees cannot meet with you in time, there is a tendency for them to lose steam on sharing their creative ideas with you.
Endeavor to listen when an employee asks if you have time to hear out an idea-even if you are busy. However, if for any reason you cannot attend to them immediately, then create time to meet with them as soon as possible.
Along with keeping an "open-door policy," you can block out some periods during the day where employees can come to share new small business ideas and concepts with you.
Being accessible shows your employees that you have an interest in what they have to say and will build trust and foster the generation of more creative ideas by your employees.
2. Take Action and Provide Feedback
I have worked in an organization where my manager would ask employees for ideas at meetings. A lot of good ideas will be put forward by employees during the meeting but that is where the ideas would end-in the meeting.
The manager would just go ahead and do what he had in mind disregarding every idea and suggestion put forward by the employees. When this kept happening, the employees started shying away from bringing out ideas. It got to a point where no one suggested anything anymore.
When you get good and workable ideas from employees, put it to task. Do not just pay lip service to it. If for any reason an idea has to be rejected, provide feedback as to why the idea cannot be implemented. This will encourage your workers to bring more ideas that a better fitted to what is needed.
3. Give Credit
Everyone enjoys being given credit and recognized for their contribution to an organization. Whenever a good idea has been put forth, ensure that proper credit is given to the originator of the idea.
This will show your employees that you are a progressive leader who is not threatened by the innovations and creativity of your subordinates. Various dividends can be accrued from this.
Firstly, since everyone loves praise, more people will be encouraged to start thinking up ideas as well. Secondly, it can serve as a strong motivation for the person or team that brought the praise-worthy idea to do more. Thirdly, it will create healthy competition and positive energy among your workforce both person-to-person, and department-to-department.
4. Create an Avenue for Idea Generation
It is not enough to just ask employees to suggest business ideas or put in their recommendations in a suggestion box. That is passive and seldom yields the desired results. You may get a suggestion in a month or two, and disjointed ones at that.
A better option to gain more concerted ideas is to have a forum for brainstorming and idea generation. These forums should be social and free as possible so as to encourage free exchange and interplay among employees which is important for birthing ideas.
When employees bounce various ideas and propositions off each other in a brainstorming session, there is bound to be an emergence of a good concept that can be developed upon.
5. Treat Ideas with Respect
No matter how impractical or unrealistic an idea may seem, do not just shoot it down with words like; "No, that won't work," or "that's not how we do things around here," or you laugh it off. It's a major turn off for the person that brought up the idea and most times will demoralize or discourage them from bringing up other ideas.
The reason is that it makes it seem like the idea was not good enough in the first place. Hear it out without interrupting. However the idea may be, whether very good or seemingly impractical, allow sometime for careful consideration of the idea. Allow it to breathe. Sleep on it.
6. Provide Incentives
People are motivated by various things. Find out what works best for your workforce. Incentives can serve as a motivation for employees to turn in ideas that will be beneficial to the growth of the organization.
Gift cards, bragging rights, time off, coveted parking spot for a period of time, dining out, open recognition, recommendation, and cash rewards are some of the incentives that can be offered to encourage idea generation from employees. Using money as an incentive should be done with care.
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This is because creative ideas are not easily quantified in terms of monetary value hence may be difficult yardstick for rewarding ideas. It may also make employees take shortcuts and cut corners because their mind may be focused on the financial compensation. These are some really good ways to get ideas from your employee.