Leaders often have a hard time convincing their employees to talk honestly about what’s really going on in their organization. Employees can feel incredibly uncomfortable making suggestions to their leaders — especially if they believe it may jeopardize their reputation or career. Where employees see they can speak up without fear, businesses see the benefits of good, accurate information and a more engaged workforce. The truth is, if you have employees who are willing to speak up and tell you what’s really going on, you have a competitive advantage. There are several ways to get better suggestions from employees and increase their comfort in conveying their thoughts. Let’s take a look at how you can do this together.
It is difficult to get someone to make a suggestion who thinks they will be punished for disagreeing. Your employees need to feel comfortable making suggestions and challenging existing procedures. Also, if they feel that you are open-minded towards their input, they will be more successful with their ideas. This is where it’s important to set limits on your support.
Some employees may be reluctant to speak in public. In such cases, you can have the employees share their personal thoughts with you privately. This could be scheduling involving regular one-on-one meetings with employees or asking for direct input.
Additionally, if you want an entry to be of high quality, you can set a clear agenda before you start meetings. In this way, you give the employees the opportunity to think about the subject.
Most employees will take a narrow view of a particular policy within the company, and few will admit that they have a biased view of those policies.
Therefore, make sure employees understand the big picture before suggesting a solution. If an employee is biased towards a particular company policy, you might suggest that they hold meetings with the people involved in the policy formulation and implementation to understand the purpose of the policy, how and why it came about, and what has been tried before. With this perspective, the employee can informally suggest a more viable solution.
You can assign an employee to collect new information for you. Thus, an employee’s collection of feedback from coworkers creates a reliable source for combining these inputs and presenting the best ideas.
Also, because whistleblowers collect reports from colleagues and present it to you anonymously, employees are more likely to be more forthright in what they say.
Employees who make constructive suggestions and share their ideas deserve feedback, positive or negative, with their reasons. Therefore, they not only encourage employees to speak up, but also want to see that voicing their opinions has a positive effect.