Communication between individuals and encouraging them to exchange ideas freely is one of the tasks that fall on the shoulders of a successful leader, learning how to create a positive work environment
Have you ever had a meeting only to find yourself the only speaker? Does your team hesitate to share their thoughts with you? Today we'll talk about how to create an interactive environment in which the exchange of ideas is encouraged. Unfortunately, this happens more often than we wish to disclose.
In many organizations, employees are afraid to speak up, they fear that their ideas will be rejected or that their careers will be turned upside down as a result of their suggestion, especially if their suggestions ultimately do not work as required.
1- Leave the room for employees to speak before you
If you want your employees to share their thoughts, let them talk first. Instead of proposing your idea and waiting for their response to it, ask them about their ideas to solve this problem and ask them what they think first.
If you say, “We are several days late and our partner is worried about it. What can we do to ensure we get the job done by the deadline? I think we need to bring in a few more people. Any other ideas? ” It's possible that your employees have other ideas that are more than just bringing in more people, but unless you have created a culture in which the idea is encouraged, you just end the meeting by coming up with your ideas first.
So instead, try something like this:
"We were several days behind our deadline and we need to catch up." I brought you here because you are the people who do the work. I need you to tell me what we can do to get back on track. ” An editorial like this will encourage realistic suggestions from staff members as they feel empowered to solve the problem. At the end of the meeting, you will have a plan somewhere where everyone has agreed and agreed upon.
2- Be open-minded
If someone else shares an idea with you that is different from your idea, how would you react? Do you stand up for your ideas first? So here's a surefire way to stop the flow of ideas. When someone says to you, “I think we should implement the plan differently,” don't respond by saying, “Why? What is the problem with the way we are implementing it now? ” By uttering responses like these, you are creating an atmosphere of hostility.
You should not see thoughts contrary to yours as an attack. If the employee is brave enough and shares an idea that spurs change, listen. It's also a great opportunity to say “It's a fun idea! Tomorrow morning, let's bring coffee to tell me more about it. ”
3- Encourage innovation
However, it is often the new employees who enter the organization with new perspectives that make them quickly able to identify areas in need of improvement. They may also have solutions from their past experience and be able to take on a new challenge (that's why they took the new position to start with).
However, since they have just joined the group roster, they haven't had the opportunity to build credibility, trust and goodwill yet. Sometimes there are seasoned employees who have ideas but don't feel they can bring it up because the stakes are so high.
Establish a process in which employees are strongly encouraged (create incentives if possible) to make suggestions. Be sure to consider all of the ideas at the beginning without reviewing who submitted them first. I still remember when I was a young IBM trainee where they had a program like this. All employees were encouraged to hand in their suggestions for improvement.
If the idea is implemented, the employee is given a reward for a small percentage of the money saved. One of my fellow trainees suggested that instead of using the traditional mail service to deliver global documents, IBM should look to a new technical service called (e-mail).
I don't remember the exact number he gave, but he was saving tens of thousands of dollars for the company. So you can imagine how much money the company saved with one idea.
4- Implement their ideas
Not only do leaders need to hear the ideas, but they also need to be implemented and learn about the individual who contributed to their implementation. In fact, if possible, let that person take the lead or at least help get the idea going. When an employee comes up with a great and usable suggestion, why not help them make them successful? Allow the person to intervene whenever possible, guide him or her, provide him with a counselor and team.
However, never place the task on the shoulders of someone who does not have the necessary knowledge. Think of it exactly as someone who has a saw and a tree and is asked to build a home in a day. Impossible to happen! Instead, prepare them for success.
Don't just say “Great! Make it happen! ” Unless the employee has the actual tools to do it. If you set up your employees in a wrong way, not only will they stop sharing their ideas with you, but co-workers will either.
If employees are expressing their thoughts or voluntarily approaching you, never respond in a defensive way. You have to be ready to really listen. If you find the idea is good, consider it and help implement it.
Recognize successes and don't punish failures. If you follow these practices, you will create a culture of openness and creativity within your company.