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Employee Idea Tips
by Jim Collison

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Getting employees 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.

Listen to Employee Ideas

Listen to your employees’ profit-minded, productivity-boosting suggestions.
Then, work on these eight tips for boosting employee creativity:

  1. Model creativity. Change a procedure. Kick-off a new one. You won’t prompt employee creativity if they don’t first see it in you.
  2. Assure 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.
  3. Talk the language. Let employees hear you using terms like "change," "experiment," "risk-taking," "new," and "creative."
  4. Exercise 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.
  5. Streamline 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

  1. Encourage 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 processes.
  2. Delegate 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?
  3. Reward 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.
Ask the
Jim Collison, author of The Complete Suggestion Program Made Easy, will answer your questions about suggestion programs, employee ideas, and employee involvement. CLICK HERE to email your question.

More Information on Suggestion Program Resources:
Suggestion Program "How-to-do-it"
You’ll get a goldmine of tips, examples, forms, guidelines, step-by-step actions to launch — or relaunch — your own successful employee idea and suggestion program...when you order the IdeaTracker Kit. And with IdeaTracker no longer have to be overwhelmed with keeping track of all the employee ideas and suggestions generated in your employee suggestion and idea program.