Employee Ideas Matter–Conversation Starters to Foster Their Input

October 16, 2019 | 1,139 views

Employee Ideas Matter--Conversation Starters to Foster Their Input
Employee Ideas Matter–Conversation Starters to Foster Their Input

Employees are often an untapped resource. If we are not the ones on the front line every day, we sometimes lose touch with daily workplace challenges or customer issues. But our employees live it every day, and we need to acknowledge that openly. Because even if we don’t hear it, they talk about what is good and what needs improvement. We must find a way to extract those ideas, really consider them, and work together to promote the best possible ones.

Fostering constructive dialogue with employees is not always easy. Hours may conflict and make it difficult to see each other. Some employees are young and feel intimidated. Others don’t trust managers and don’t want to rock the boat with criticisms. A few may feel like nothing would ever change even if they did suggest an idea. But the fact is that our best chances for success include the input of our employees. Their ideas matter, so let’s collect good intel and expand our own views with open-ended questions like these.

  1. What is the best and worst part of your job? How can we change that?
  2. What aspect of the overall operation frustrates you most? How could we change that?
  3. What skills do you have that are underutilized? Are there others whose skills you think we could use more too?
  4. What can we do to improve our workplace?
  5. What quality of our company do you most admire? And what are we lacking?
  6. What type of training or other opportunities would you value?
  7. How do you understand our brand? And how well do we preserve and protect that brand? Where do we do well, and where do we stumble?
  8. What changes would you make in how we operate?
  9. What could we do to improve communication between employees? With customers? With vendors?
  10. Why do you think customers work with us? Is that enough?
  11. Is anything hurting our client relationships? What could make it better?
  12. How can we complete projects or introduce new products better?
  13. How could we be more successful?

One-on-one conversations on these topics can engage employees while providing a richer perspective for managers. But I’ve also seen it done by department, when appropriate, with pages of ideas and cooperative input. The level of involvement can be amazingly gratifying when we see our employees take an interest in the success of our business. Without it, our prospects are darker. 

Our employees think about these topics every day, and their input can be refreshing to us who get stuck going over invoices or payroll details. They see the bright and dark sides of an operation and its impact quite clearly. Let’s get those employees sharing their knowledge and glowing ideas—we’ll be better managers in more successful companies.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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