by Jim Collison
to be creative -- and share the employee ideas in a suggestion program
-- takes more than wishing for it. Employees with creative ideas
can make your business more profitable. But you can’t get
the maximum gain from employee ideas unless you encourage your employees
to be creative.
How, in a suggestion
program and employee involvement program, do you spur employee creativity?
Find out if
your work environment can nurture creativity. Ask employees to list
those attitudes harbored by
management and supervisors that stifle or foster inventiveness.
For the best results, ask a consultant to conduct this survey.
to Employee Ideas
Listen to your
employees’ profit-minded, productivity-boosting suggestions.
Then, work on these eight tips for boosting employee creativity:
creativity. Change a procedure. Kick-off a new one. You
won’t prompt employee creativity if they don’t first
see it in you.
job security. Before a successful idea crosses the finish
line, a hundred lesser ideas drop out of the race. Reassure employees
that they won’t be fired, they won’t be ridiculed,
berated, ostracized or punished when their bright ideas fizzle.
the language. Let employees hear you using terms like
"change," "experiment," "risk-taking,"
"new," and "creative."
patience. It takes time to create a creative workplace.
A toddler doesn’t walk overnight. Students learn multiplication
tables before opening calculus primers. In the same way, employees
need time to grow into their creative talents.
procedures. Imagine that an employee on the bottom rung
of the ladder makes a suggestion. Does your firm’s red tape
hamper that suggestion from rising to the top? If so, it’s
time to rethink your suggestion system.
Encourage Employee Ideas
little ideas. Before a 180-watt idea lights up in an
employee’s head, many 40-watt ideas pop up. When you scoff
at the little ideas, you turn off an employee’s creative
challenging jobs. Most bosses snatch for themselves the
challenging, rewarding tasks. They hand out lesser assignments
to subordinates. But these employees can’t exercise much
creativity when they’re sharpening pencils. How about sending
the big assignments their way a bit more often?
top-notch suggestions. Money usually isn’t the
most effective reward. Try throwing a surprise party or treating
the employee to a special dinner. Public shows of appreciation
such as these are almost always big hits with employees.