Researchers at Harvard University found that employees are far more inclined to speak up and offer solutions when organizations launch information campaigns aimed at improving processes. Making it easy for employees to communicate ideas also helps improve the number of suggestions brought forth. The CEO of Rosenbluth International made it easy by creating a special 800 number voice-mail suggestion box where employees could submit ideas, concerns or praise directly to him. A CEO of Cinergy held regular “Listening Meetings” to hear employees’ concerns and ideas without interference.
A constant reminder to employees also helps. One automobile parts manufacturer, for example, displayed giant posters throughout all its plants listing ten questions that all employees are encouraged to ask themselves, their colleagues and their bosses. The questions included: “What took too long?” “What made you mad?” What cost too much?” “What was too complicated” and “What is just plain silly?” The questions led to better communication, innovative ideas and improved efficiencies.
And finally, making it fun to submit ideas helps. One company holds a monthly raffle for prizes based on drawing a person’s name from their idea box. So the more ideas you submit (and only serious ones are eligible for a prize) the better your chances of winning.
Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame business speaker and very funny motivational speaker who specializes in workplace culture. For more awesome ideas, inspiration and a bit of fun sign up for his free weekly e-zine Humor at Work.
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