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Promoting freedom of idea flow

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Many businesses benefit daily from the suggestions of their employees. But some have trouble getting their employees to share their opinions. There are some great ways to help your employees to voice their opinion, and many businesses overlook them.

Here are a few ideas that will help the idea flow in your business. These are ways to encourage employees to share their feelings and ideas for improvement.

  • The best thing to do is put out a suggestion box. You can put it right by the manager's door or in a more secluded area. If you put it in a secluded area then those that are shy about their opinions will be more likely to share. It can be fancy or boring, but everyone should know what it is and where it is.
  • Allow employees to submit an idea anonymously. Some employees may feel that you will look down on them if you don't like their suggestion, although this should never be the case, give them the chance to give an idea without their name.
  • When an idea is submitted, give it careful consideration. Take the time to read it and talk it over with the management. If it turns into a great idea, then make sure the person knows how grateful you are for the idea.
  • Give credit where credit is due, when someone puts in a great idea let others know that they deserve the credit. In a staff meeting bring up the idea and the changes it will bring, then make sure that the person gets thanked for the idea and an opportunity to help see it through.
  • If an idea comes in that is not so good and won't be used, let the person know. This would probably work better in person as opposed to in front of the staff. Let them know what you didn't like about the idea and why you decided not to go with it. Encourage further suggestions from them and let them know that you truly appreciate the effort.
  • If you suggestion box is frequently empty, remind your employees that you are always looking for good ideas. They might have forgotten one they want to share. Let them know that any idea will be thoroughly considered.
  • Be approachable. Some employees want to share their ideas in person, let them know that they can come right to you if they want to. They should feel like you are going to listen to their idea without criticism and that you will not make them feel bad for bringing it up. Being a good manager means being someone they can talk to.
  • Have idea meetings where people come expecting to hear and put in new ideas. Getting employees in a group can spark a conversation that might evolve into something great. The saying that two heads are better than one rings true, and the more the merrier too!
  • Write thank you notes to those that put in ideas. Let them know that you want to hear their thoughts and that you really do read what they write. It doesn't matter what comes of the idea, show gratitude for all of them.
  • You might even consider doing a monthly drawing with all of the names in the suggestion box. The giveaway can be simple, but the idea of winning might help some employees get their wheels turning and the ideas flowing. If you have idea meetings then a prize at the end might get more involvement as well, let them know that if they come they will be put in for a drawing.

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Posted by DF
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