Well the beginning of November was our annual Idea of the Year competition, once again this year, the final was held in conjunction with our annual conference.
There were over 100 ideas submitted from all sectors of our membership and indeed from all over the world. Once a shortlist was decided on, we invited the finalists to our conference to carry out a brief interview with the judges to explain the idea and the benefits it has brought to the organisation. Continue reading →
I have just spent the past week in the United Arab Emirates visiting companies and auditing their suggestion schemes for accreditation 2012.
As most of you know, the UAE has developed hugely over the past 15 years and Dubai is hardly recognisable from the town it was in the late 90’s. Something that may surprise you though is how employee engagement is taking hold within Governmental Departments in the area.
Now, something about my home life that you should know is that my wife loves soap operas on television. Well, one in particular, and that is Coronation Street. For readers of this blog overseas, this is a soap that is set in the North of England and is set around a working class street.
So, what does this have to do with employee engagement I hear you ask?
Well, on Monday night, my wife was watching some episodes of this soap and something really struck me. In the show, one of the central points is a factory that manufactures ladies underwear run by a character called Carla. Continue reading →
On Monday I was lucky enough to attend an engagement practitioner’s event run by Engaging for Success (E4S) and hosted by The Admiral Group in Cardiff.
How can you tell if you employees are engaged in the business?
E4S was set up by the government after the publication of the MacLeod report into employee engagement in the public sector (A copy of the report can be found here) and its aim is to improve engagement within the public sector by giving practitioners the opportunity to network across departments and share best practice.
The day started with an overview of Admiral Insurance and how they deal with engagement and right from the start of the session it was clear this is one area Admiral takes very seriously in its business model. One point Admiral did make several times during the day is that all Continue reading →
Do not expect the CEO or senior executives to seek reports. You have been tasked with running the suggestion/recognition programme therefore you must take full responsibility for that.
You have the opportunity to become an expert within your organisation by identifying areas where improvement is needed and who is best placed to implement this improvement. You have the opportunity to be closely involved in assisting with the delivery of your organisations business plan. You have the opportunity to be a key player and you should ensure that your management realise this. You must be proactive.
Understand the wider issues facing your business and ensure that the suggestion programme is aligned to address these issues
Have an awareness of best practice. Find out what others both within your sector and outside are doing and develop your plans
Ensure that your own knowledge and expertise is up to date
Network and benchmark with others
Ensure that you can give examples of what others are doing and achieving and what you are doing to maintain competitiveness
Be aware of initiatives being used within your business and how the suggestion programme will work with them to deliver improved business results
If you want to compete with others for top management attention be aware of what keeps them up at night.
What you must do
Can you change/enhance anything about your programme to make it more appealing or beneficial?
Think of it as a product – can you repackage/resize or discover new uses, involve more people, enhance outcomes?
You must have a vision. Recognise opportunities or demand in specific areas of the business. Should you continually focus on areas where support is strong and abandon others? Could you take advantage of marketing opportunities within the organisation by joining with other business area or activities?
What resources or training will be needed to ensure your team is up to speed? Outline your vision in your business plan. Break down longer-term goals into specific numerical targets and short term aims. Keep your goals challenging and SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time related)
Make it your business to know what is happening outside of your organisation, both in relation to suggestion scheme processes and relating to the business.
Know your business environment. If you are aware of imminent change you may be able to turn a threat into an opportunity.
Identify the people you respect as experts in your field and find opportunities to talk with them. Investigate opportunities for benchmarking.
Be aware of what businesses your management respect, admire or wish to emulate and find out their best practices in relation to employee involvement
Communicate regularly with all employees within the organisation. Seek feedback both formally and informally.
Make use of internal benchmarking and consider any ideas used elsewhere in the business that you could usefully take on board e.g. marketing expertise
Encourage experiments and be prepared to take risks in order to maximise the impact your scheme can have within the organisation
Analyse the impact of your processes on your stakeholders. Consider what could be done more efficiently. What could be done to increase customer/stakeholder satisfaction?
Consider how cost effective improvements could be made. Do you have FAQ’s (and answers) either on intranet or hard copy?
Involve own team or work colleagues to help develop and implement changes. Utilise cross-functional teams
Encourage managers to lead innovation and actively encourage ideas by running workshops, discussion groups or cross-functional teams. Consider using an experienced outside facilitator to run the sessions.
Lead people away from thinking innovation must mean radical big bang changes. A lot of small changes can add up to a big change for the better and usually with far less risk
Show that the pursuit of innovation is seen as a continuing process. Innovation does not just happen in workshops. Experience has shown that the 48 hours after a workshop has ended can be a very productive period. Make sure that ideas that surface during this period are captured by the suggestion scheme.
Ensure your business goals and outcomes are regularly reported in team meetings
Build long term goals into your business plan. Set and review targets and milestones. Track key performance indicators (participation, implementation and ROI) to monitor progress
Recognise that day to day tasks are always going to be seen as more important than the suggestion scheme
Combat insecurity and resistance to change through better communication
Gain recognition and acceptance for the need to change by discussing the consequences of not taking action
Continually raise the profile of innovation and the importance of the suggestion scheme
Actively encourage the involvement of all employees at all stages
Provide regular reports to top management on all aspects of suggestion scheme performance emphasising benefits to business and consequently the importance of the part you play.
When I talk to business leaders, I always ask about the most difficult challenges they face day in and day out. Increasingly, I’m hearing about how hard it is to innovate on a consistent basis.
This anecdotal evidence is now being supported by a recent McKinsey Global Survey that polled more than 2,200 senior executives around the globe on the challenges of managing innovation.
Eighty-four percent of the executives who responded said they consider innovation to be very or extremely important to their companies’ growth strategies. Yet, despite their emphasis on the importance of innovation, many of those executives feel that their companies are not doing a good job on following through on innovation as a strategic imperative. Continue reading →
Every once in a while a television programme is made which captures my interest. Over the past few weeks, I have been watching the Channel 4 series Undercover Boss intently and it really has become ‘must watch’ TV for me on a Tuesday night.
For those who have never seen the show, the premise is that a senior manager from an organisation spends a week, in disguise, working within the business to get a feel of what is happening at the ‘coalface’. They then report back to the board and make changes to the business, but not before they invite a selection of staff they have met during the week to the head office for all to be revealed and given a reward of some sort for all their hard work. Continue reading →
I am often asked: what are the biggest issues you face when trying to launch an ideas programme within an organisation?
Having being involved with ideas management for over ten years, the challenges today are the same as they were all those years ago.
It is important right from the start to outline the objectives of the programme and review on a regular basis.
1. Reputation – In my personal experience, suggestion schemes do have a bad reputation within some organisations. This is no fault of the scheme itself, but in the initial set-up of the scheme. When launching a scheme it can be easy to fall in the trap of promising the world but in reality delivering very little. Continue reading →