Keep good ideas flowing

Have you ever found yourself dismissing an employee’s idea? Perhaps you have uttered statements such as “That would save time for everyone, but the change would require too much disruption” or “I like the idea, but the board will never buy it.”

Admittedly, many ideas are not worth pursuing and deserve to be shot down. But if you judge too quickly, employees will get so discouraged they’ll stop making suggestions at all. Then you’re in trouble. Here’s how to break free of this dilemma:

  • Get a second opinion. Submit any reasonably attractive idea to an open staff discussion. The most creative ideas often sound ridiculous at first.
    Require contributions. The most effective managers schedule regular sessions at which employees are required to contribute ideas.
  • Explain your reasoning. When you turn down any idea—no matter how small or how impractical it may seem—take the time to explain why you’re saying “No” in detail.
  • Admit your own mistakes. If people see that you’re allowed to fail, they’ll feel more self-confident about taking risks.
  • Recognize people simply for speaking up. People deserve to know their thoughts count.

Source: “Finding, Hiring and Keep the Best Employees,” Robert Half, John Wiley & Sons Inc, as published in Managers Edge, July 2003.