Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Great ideas are worth their weight in gold. And great ideas from your own employees are priceless. Unfortunately, we often don't give our employees and their ideas the acknowledgement and attention they deserve.
In his book Staying Smart in the Internet Age, author Mark McCormack demonstrates how most companies give ideas from customers or outside associates far more credit than ideas from employees within the organization. Why? Several reasons:
- Managers and supervisors are often reluctant to share ideas unless they themselves get the credit. This is the result of a company culture that clearly doesn't encourage participation or creativity. But beware... a company that doesn't encourage and invest in new ideas will never succeed in a competitive marketplace. Check out "How Smart Is Your Business."
- We'd sooner make a decision based on magazine articles than listen to those who know our organization and customers best. This is an antiquated mindset that must be changed. Read "Change Is Good, You Go First."
- Management sets the wrong example. If you learned that a guest was ignored, you'd be furious. Don't make excuses when you learn an employee's suggestions and ideas were ignored. Walk your talk. Set an example. Encourage your managers to heed employee feedback.
You should do more than listen to and acknowledge ideas. Ideas should be encouraged and rewarded on a daily basis. There are infinite ways to do this, from informal conversations to full-blown contests with cash prizes like the one we described in "A Dollar for Your Thoughts.