Asking for staffers’ input helps increase morale and boosts teamwork. It also leads to great ideas that help companies make and save money.
Not all supervisors remember this on a regular basis. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus on the daily grind. Whether it’s the controller, credit manager or CFO at a company, part of being a leader is developing successful staffers.
Here are five best practices to help spur input from team members and keep the good ideas flowing:
1. Offer examples (key: ‘small’ wins matter!)
Staffers might not offer suggestions because they don’t think their ideas are “big enough.”
So remember to point out times that small suggestions have saved the company money or time, or reduced aggravation. Remember: Thinking small can lead to big improvements.
2. Set a deadline
It’s not a bad idea to tell people, “Whatever you can come up with, feel free to drop by the end of this week [or any time] and let me know about it.”
This sends the message that you’re not making an open-ended request. Instead you’re looking forward to having a conversation as soon as possible.
At the same time, they know it’s not mandatory. It’s a competitive challenge, not a “Your job may depend on it” pressure situation.
3. Give fast feedback
You can’t use every idea your crew comes up with. But they won’t speak up if they think their ideas are disappearing into a black hole.
Keep them updated on the status of new ideas – and whether or not their suggestions are feasible. And finally, always say “Thank you very much for your efforts.”
4. Keep the back burner simmering
Employees may be enthusiastic about tech upgrades or streamlining a process that takes too much time. An idea may be a good one that can’t be implemented for a while.
Make sure to keep the suggestions you’d like to see come to fruition simmering on the back burner. When it’s time to move, let the folks who advocated for a change know, “I didn’t forget about XYZ. We may finally be ready to get the ball rolling.”
5. Never forget to recognize them
A little public recognition goes a long way. And few things create bad will in a workplace more than a boss who takes the credit for an employee’s initiative.
Those who come up with good ideas and take steps to implement them should be acknowledged by name not just at staff meetings, but at company-wide confabs so others at the company can acknowledge them.