How to nourish grassroots ideas

Your staff members are a pivotal information source about shifting customer needs. Make it part of your workplace culture for people to constantly provide fresh ideas based on what they see. Customer demand is a moving target in rapidly changing times. And your team members are the ones talking to clients every day. In fact, when you think about it, no one knows your business better than your employees. Here are a few tips to help encourage your staff to come up with new ideas:

Welcome all ideas

Always emphasise to every member of your staff, no matter what their level, that you’re interested in hearing their suggestions or receiving input about the business — even when the feedback is negative or unsolicited. Provide handy tools, such as internal blogs, intranet sites or even simple suggestion boxes, to encourage employees to submit ideas.

Continue to delegate

Even if you feel the stakes are higher for you now as a manager or business owner, this is not a time to avoid delegating authority and responsibility. You’ll find that even a seemingly unimaginative worker becomes creative when he or she has a stake in the outcome of a project.

Group brainstorm

Since excitement and creativity are contagious, your employees will often come up with better ideas working as a group than they would on their own.

Follow up

When your staff members offer suggestions, make it a point to respond to their ideas. Although you may not be able to implement everything they recommend, don’t discourage people by ignoring their input. Explain why you’re not able to take action on certain suggestions — at least for now. And finally, remember to thank staff for their suggestions and recognise ideas if they are implemented. It will make your employees feel appreciated and encourage them to keep coming back with fresh feedback from the frontline.

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