Getting (and Using) Employee’s Ideas

Do you feel like you are the only one in your business to come up with new, great ideas?

Traditional Idea Generation

Even if you answered “no,” chances are that it is true in your business that most of the new ideas come from management.

The typical business likes the status quo.

Our nature is to like things to run steady, with few surprises, and no changes.  We all have our set management practices and our metrics.  And if nothing changes, we can see in an instant how things are going.

This business model is understandable.  We all are descendants of risk-averse ancestors whose self-preservation instincts said that change is dangerous, and we need to stay away from trying anything new.

This is true, especially if the new ideas are not our own.

We all have an inherent negative bias against other people’s ideas, which causes us to quickly dismiss any new ideas coming from anyone other than our most trusted compatriots.

And as we are now seeing, that is the business model of companies that are struggling in the new economy of 2019.

New Idea Generation

What successful companies now are realizing is that some of the best ideas originate from our employees.

The right approach to generating ideas from your employees will create a virtuous circle.

Your workers will become more engaged as they see their ideas implemented, and as you see the success of their new ideas, you will give the workers more latitude to suggest even more and better ideas.  Which empowers the workers to come up with even more new ideas, and as you see the success. . . .

Why Rely on Employees

Without question, it is your frontline workers who have the best knowledge of the particulars of your products, processes, and services.  Who else could possibly be in a better position to spot opportunities and problems?

How to Solicit Employees Ideas

You must solicit the employee’s ideas.

Since our traditional business approach has suppressed being open to new ideas, we now need to make the employees aware that they can offer ideas without any incrimination or repercussion.

  1. Create a culture of innovation and ideas. This starts by promoting your business mission, values, and business direction.  Let everyone know that new ideas that conform to these corporate objectives are welcome and encouraged
  2. Constantly ask for ideas and establish a process for submitting them. Make it very easy to suggest new ideas.
  3. Learn to listen. Hear out the ideas, and don’t be too quick to judge the good from the questionable.  These are not trained innovators, and they may need some refining to make their actual idea coherent.
  4. Allow time for innovation. Let you people test new ideas before they finally submit them.
  5. Try the ideas out. Spend some time and money on ideas to see if they work.  And if they didn’t, let everyone know and celebrate with the employee who tried and encourage everyone to keep trying.
  6. And, when the ideas do work, tell the story to everyone. This can be your most powerful marketing tool and employee promotion opportunity.

The Bible

The hurdle of asking for new ideas from your employees is overcoming your ego—and ultimately asking for help.  It is a plea to your employees for ideas that you cannot come up with on your own.

Asking for help is hard, and the sooner you overcome that fear, the sooner your business will be on a positive trajectory.  Unfortunately, many business owners and managers would prefer to not ask for help and continue to struggle on their own.

God has made us all to be in need of help.  It is part of his design.

First, in Genesis 2:18, He said.

                        The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

And then in Galatians 6:2, He said.

                         Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.

God wants us to bear each other’s burdens.  By asking for help, you are allowing your employees to fulfill Christ’s command and help you carry your responsibility.

In an amazing way, God has placed you in a position of responsibility for your employees.  And He has placed your employees in a position where they can help you.  Ask your employees for their ideas, and you will receive the blessing of many great ideas.