Undercover Boss again…


As you know, here at ideasUK we love the Channel 4 show Undercover Boss. In case any of you have never seen this show, it is about a senior manager going back to the floor and working in different parts of the business for a week. Continue reading

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Another…


Saw this on the news today and thought I would share it with you:

BBC News – Kit Kat Voucher Angers Hospital Staff

This is another example of an organisation getting it very wrong.

Would you fall into the same trap?

How Not to Engage…


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

Guest Post – Flip-chart foraging and why its worth trying the Draw Something application


Today’s post comes from a good friend of ideasUK, if you have never visited What’s the Pont, I suggest you go over and have a look, it is a great site to visit

One of my pastimes is checking out the abandoned flipcharts I find in the variety of offices and meeting rooms I get to frequent. It’s quite a revealing pastime (possibly about me unfortunately). Occasionally you do stumble across sensitive material, obviously this goes straight in the confidential waste bin, or back into the hands of the originator. However, it’s the other material on flipcharts that fascinates me. I reckon you can get a useful insight into an organisation from the debris gets left behind on the flipcharts. The more frantic the scribbles, the more I like it.  Line & box diagrams, mind maps, dodgy graphs, stick people and bullet points all feature. Whatever form it takes it’s all a great informal record of organisational life. The real story of what’s going on from the hands of the people who know the place best.

This helpfully gives me an opportunity to talk about some recent experiences where a drawing has helped focus a discussion. Continue reading

Employee Engagement – Is it worth it?


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.

Workshop

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

What does Suggestion Scheme Management Involve?


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

 Opportunities

  • 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?

Planning

  • 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)

Look outside

  • 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

Look inside

  • 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

Improve processes

  • 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 innovation

  • 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

Overcoming Obstacles

  • 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

And finally

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.

 

The Benefits of a Suggestion Scheme and How to Start


Part 1

A lot of the time, we are asked, what are the main considerations of setting up an ideas programme? What should be considered and what are the benefits? This two part post will give you some pointers.

The Importance of Involving Employees

People, both in teams and as individuals, always have been and always will be the source of creativity, innovation and improvement. The harnessing of this talent is crucial to the success and growth of any organisation. Increased competition and demand for improved customer service means that managers have to consider how they meet increasing demands without increasing costs. They have to utilise existing resources fully. There is therefore a need to proactively encourage employees to generate ideas for innovation and improvement.

Advantages of Involving Employees Continue reading

Why Suggestion Schemes Fail


Today’s guest post is written by Robert A. Schwarz

My company has worked with suggestion schemes at hundreds of organizations. Each year many organizations start a new suggestion process, while many existing suggestion systems are abandoned.

Let’s look at some examples – kept anonymous to protect the guilty.

An insurance company had installed a suggestion scheme. It was well designed, performing very well and the person heading it up had attended training and really was interested in the task. In spite of good data that showed that the process was an effective profit center, a newly hired executive vice president with strong dislike of suggestion schemes strongly opposed the process. Although the CEO had supported the process, it was discontinued. Our reading was that there was no one on the executive staff that would challenge the new VP. Those operating the suggestion system chose silence over potential loss of a job. Continue reading

Not A New Idea – Sorry!


Today’s guest post is written by Andrew Wood

How often has that been given as a reason for not using an idea when the suggestor puts it forward? Most readers will say that it is a frequent occurrence. This short tale illustrates how futile that reasoning is and how we can really lose the benefits of good ideas by giving this reason. Continue reading

Undercover Boss, is it really a surprise?


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