Normally on a Friday, I give you a list of top ten websites I have been looking at over the week. As International Ideas Week starts on Monday. I thought I would give you top tips on how to engage employees and generate ideas.
- Do not place boundaries on creative thinking; sometimes it is good to let people have free reign on innovation. The point to remember about ideas, is that everything in this world has been someone’s thought and idea. The example I use of this is: Milk. I mean who first had the absurd idea to drink cows milk? Yet today it is in everyone’s daily life.
- Don’t be afraid to steal something and make it better, anyone remember the first mobile phones? They were huge things that had the weight of a house brick. Well there has been a lot of money made by phone companies by taking the existing product and making it better over the past 15 years.
- Sometimes an idea is so simple people cannot believe it hasn’t been tried before, sometimes simple is best. The amount of ideas I see within organisations that are simple step changes that have huge benefits to the business has to be seen to be believed. Because an innovation is so simple people sometime think ‘it must have been done before’!
- Feedback is vital to the success of any engagement or ideas programme. If your employees think their ideas are not being listened to, they will tune out and it will be very difficult to engage them in future. Even if you update them to tell them there is no update, the lines of communication remain open.
- Don’t just collect ideas! The easiest thing in the world to do is go out to your staff and ask for ideas. The real skill then comes from actually doing something with them. Don’t worry, you will not be expected to implement every single idea that comes to you, but, you do have to look at each one and implement those that are feasible.
- Involve everyone within the business and don’t make it exclusive to one part of the business. The best run engagement programmes are those that are applicable to all employees from the tea lady up to the Chief Executive.
- Highlight your success. Be proud of the fact your organisation generates a bucket load of ideas, in fact, shout it from the roof tops as loud as you can. Every time an Idea is implemented, generate internal publicity, recognise the submitter and shout about the customer benefits. I think the point I am trying to make is, the ideas programme should not be the organisation’s ‘dirty little secret’. Shout it loud and shout it proud – We are innovators and proud of it!
- Decide on the level of recognition you are going to give to people who participate in the scheme. Now I am a great lover of recognition in any form and I think there is nothing better in the whole world than a manager praising someone who has excelled. Make sure you develop a strategy for recognition that fits in with your organisation.
- Don’t fear failure. So, you have an innovation or engagement programme that just isn’t delivering for the business. What do you do? Do you throw in the towel and say, well it didn’t work and move along to the next big thing in business or do you figure out why it failed and try to improve it? You will be surprised by how many organisations throw their hands in the air and admit failure. Are you one of those organisations?
- Have fun and make it memorable. Innovation and engagement should be fun, just look at those organisations that are considered to be great companies to work for… Microsoft, Google. Apple et al… What do they all have in common? Well ask any employee and they will tell you that the work place is fun and they are engaged in the business. So what do they do different to you?
Our normal top 10 will be back soon, but in the meantime, I just wanted to share a page that CashZilla (@cashziller) have developed for their fun idea for International Ideas week. Have you submitted your idea yet?