Have you ever felt insignificant or irrelevant? How did you like it? That feeling is a real dis-engager in the workplace. Someone may believe their company is doing inspiring work or producing a useful product but still feel they are an insignificant part of the “machine.” One important way an Engager can help people recognize their significance is to listen to their ideas. No one has the whole picture of the big picture. We often have people working in our organizations who have been there for over 30 years. Those people can be valuable. They have incredible institutional knowledge of how things have been done in the past; what has been tried and worked, or not worked. On the other hand, long time employees can also fall into the “7-deadly-word-syndrome”, “We Never Did It That Way Before.” That’s another issue.
Where Do the Best Ideas Come From?
Regardless of how long they’ve been working there, who usually has the best knowledge of what it takes to get a job done? Isn’t it usually the front line worker who is doing the job every day? Many times, these folks have lots of ideas about how to do a job more efficiently or more safely, often they don’t share them because they feel no one would want to listen to them.
How can we cultivate a culture of fresh ideas? They don’t always have to be about efficiency (but they might be), they could be about how to celebrate something more meaningfully, or how to improve communication on a certain issue, or about marketing to a certain demographic more effectively. The best way to find good ideas is to ask. Solicit ideas from your employees during tool box meetings (or whatever you may call a start of shift or beginning of day meetings) and when you’re walking around. Regularly ask your employees, “How could we do _______ better?”
Close the Loop
When one of your employees comes up with an idea that you implement be sure to give credit where credit is due. Taking credit for someone else’s idea ruins morale and disengages your employees. On the other hand, when credit is given to the person who came up with the idea two things happen. First, others are encouraged to contribute ideas they have because they believe something may actually come of it. Second, employees will be more engaged in their work because they have helped to make the job better.