- May 9, 2010
Your business is your baby. You’ve nurtured it from the beginning, and you may be a bit reluctant to hear any ideas that aren’t your own. I can hear you now, “I listen to other people’s ideas all the time!” Yeah, you may be placating your team members or employees, but I’m always surprised by the amount of great ideas that staff have that often go unheard. And it’s not for lack of trying to get their ideas out there, it’s because the business is YOUR baby and because it’s your baby, any ideas that aren’t yours can easily be dismissed.
There are a couple of problems that can occur because of this that, as a business owner, you may not see.
The first problem is missed opportunity. How many time saving, cost saving, productivity increasing innovations are you missing by not hearing the creative thoughts of your employees? It’s important to remember that as your company has grown, by necessity you have removed yourself from certain daily operations which are now being done by your employees. The people that now do the work you were doing, may very well find a faster, smarter, better way to get it done. Instead of shooting down their ideas, hear them out. Create a forum for creativity if you will. Create a process for the submission of ideas. This empowering of your employees is an often missed and invaluable business asset. Which brings me to the second problem that can occur by stifling out ideas.
This problem is often overlooked, but is probably a much bigger issue than the missed opportunity issue. What is it? Demotivation and devaluation of employees. Employees who feel their opinions and ideas are not heard stop giving them willingly. Not only that, they may start doing their work begrudgingly. They may lose the passion for what they do that makes them valuable and in turn, may start doing sloppy work–may stop caring about the quality of their work altogether.
The ripple effect that is caused by a disgruntled or unsatisfied employee can have a lasting imprint on your entire business. I saw a company recently lose hundreds of thousands of dollars because one disgruntled worker (who repeatedly had ideas shot down and felt demoralized by the boss) “poisoned the well” at her office. The customers could see it and responded by going elsewhere, the quality of her work went down the crapper, and she was constantly bad mouthing the employer and making everyone else question why they worked there. Months later the company is still trying to recover from this one employee.
The simple fact is that employees who feel empowered perform better. If a team member feels like they have a voice, they are much more likely to be passionate about what they do and perform at highest level.
Does this mean every idea a team member has is a good idea? Absolutely not. I’m not talking about letting the employees make the rules either. But many a grand innovation has come from an employee, not the employer (you). Be open to new ideas from within your company. Create a company culture that embraces creative thinking without restrictions. Let the ideas come to the table and then nourish those ideas with potential. Your team will feel more connected to you and to their work, and you will feel better as your company grows and flourishes.
Remember, your entire company started with an idea.