I’m convinced that every employee has a $50K idea if you can only get it out. This may not be the first idea they have – it may be the 5th or the 15th. Whether you get that many ideas and suggestions from the employee will be a function as to how you handle the first ideas they have.
Do you initially thank employees for their idea regardless as to it’s merit – or are you quick to put their idea down and with it the person who submitted the suggestions? The former approach meets people at their energy and makes it easier for them to want to do more. The latter approach will guarantee the behavior is extinguished, that is, the employee will quickly lose interest in sharing ideas that are not valued by the organization.
I know of one company whose CEO personally empties the suggestion box each week and makes a point of giving feedback to every person who took the time to submit an idea or a suggestion. He provides guidance and encouragement as to how the employee might take the idea to the next step, but he especially makes a point to acknowledge those employees who submit a suggestion that may not get implemented.
He takes the time to explain why the employee’s idea can not be be used, if that’s the case, but in each of those instances he will also especially thank the employee for taking the time and effort to submit the suggestion and to remind him or her that he’ll be “looking for more suggestions from them in the future.”
This action turns what might otherwise be considered a rejection or negative consequence into thanks and encouragement, which are both positive consequences, thus serviing to stimulate additional results from the individual and others that see or hear of the executive response.
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