The greatest source of innovation comes from your employees. While most organizations already know this, the challenge is not about how to get ideas, but rather, how to organize and select the ones that matter.
So how can you track these ideas in a more effective manner? Furthermore, how can you prioritize these ideas so that they resonate with both leaders and employees?
Here is how to tap into employee innovation regardless of what platform you are using:
1. Communicate—All the Time
Without engaged employees, there is no employee innovation. The best way to engage employees is quite simply to keep them in the loop. Whether you are using email or idea software, make it a part of your workflow to let employees know what is happening with their ideas.
Some of the key times to engage employees are:
- When you receive the idea. Let them know that you have read it and you are working on it.
- When you accept or decline an idea. Contrary to what you might think, employees react worse to no feedback than rejection. So long as declining the idea is delivered in the right way, you should not worry about saying no to an idea. When you accept an idea, let them know when you expect to start on the idea.
- When you start to implement the idea. Let them know that you are ready to start implementing the idea!
- When the idea is completed. Phew, implementing the idea was a lot of work but it was worth it. Celebrate the success whenever possible.
We recommend responding to every individual who you receive an idea from. While it is a lot of work, it is important to make sure that they know that their idea has not fallen into a black hole like other suggestion boxes.
From there you can combine the other three steps into a weekly newsletter to help manage the workload and maintain engagement. Give yourself a refresher on the best times to engage employees.
2. Choose Ideas That Are Aligned to Both Leaders and Employees
Optimizing your ideas to align both to leaders and employees is an important part in running a successful engaged idea program. Choosing ideas that are aligned to leaders will help generate leadership support as your engaged idea program grows. At same time, ideas that resonate with the community will help the adoption of program.
Tip: Sometimes it really is about more than the idea. Sometimes ideas will come up that are almost but not quite aligned with strategic priorities, but nonetheless resonate strongly with the community. It is helpful to think beyond just the idea and address the true need behind ideas. Why is the community so supportive of the idea? Let that be the guiding question to help you problem solve and evolve the idea so that it aligns both with leaders and employees.
3. Implement, Implement, Implement
There is no substitute for execution. Without execution, an idea is just an idea. With execution, an idea becomes innovation. Pour many resources as you can into implementing ideas. This may mean taking on fewer ideas at a time and results may happen slower, but nothing is more rewarding to the community than seeing an employee idea be successfullycompleted.