Looking to upgrade your operations and to accelerate growth? Of course you are. That’s the point of business. Achieving those goals might start with listening to your own employees.

Your current team represents an excellent resource to fuel innovation. Research suggests that the vast majority of your workers have ideas that could improve your business. In fact, one study found that 82% of employees report having thoughts about how their firms could enhance their firms.

Are you listening to these potentially game-changing ideas? Before you bring in high-priced consultants and third-party advisors, you might want to start with the folks you already have on staff.

Doing so might mean reworking your relationship with your team. Listening to your employees often falls into the “easier said than done” category. To achieve this goal, you need to create the right corporate culture. You also might have to prepare yourself for some harsh truths.

In the end, though, your organization will be better off. With that in mind, here are a few steps you can take to listen to your employees in the most effective way possible:

Create a System to Encourage Comments

Don’t assume feedback will flow naturally. Workers have a natural reluctance to speak up to their bosses. Besides, in the normal flow of day-to-day routines, it’s tough to find the time to air out new ideas.

To overcome these barriers, set up a system to encourage feedback. We’ll get into some of the details later, but the general point here is to have a formal process in place. Don’t rely on casual conversations or impromptu interactions.

In other words, actively seek out good ideas.

Set Up an Anonymous Suggestion System

Again, recognize that your workers might not clamor to give you bad news. They want to stay on your good side, and even constructive criticism can create tension.

As a result, you need to bypass this concern. Have a process in place to receive anonymous feedback. Think of it like an old-fashioned suggestion box. Only bring that idea into the 21st century, with options like an online submission form on the company webpage.

Don’t Punish Feedback You Don’t Like

When you open the floodgates to new ideas, you might not like everything that pours in. But think of it like a vigorous workout program. Improvement often involves pain.

That pain shouldn’t involve reprisals on your honest employees. You should encourage feedback, even the negative kind. Obviously, you should weigh the information you receive to rule out irrational complaints. But you shouldn’t look to get rid of “negative employees” who are just responding to your call for ideas.

Get Their Opinions Before You Give Yours

It takes a lot of bravery to disagree with your boss. As such, structure the feedback process to gather employee ideas first, before you weigh in on the issue.

In other words, be careful about poisoning the well. Don’t look to confirm your assumptions. Instead, ask neutral questions and let what you hear inform your final decision.

Act on Good Ideas

Implement the good ideas you hear. Show your workers that their feedback will lead to improved operations and a better work environment. This will encourage a virtuous cycle. As workers see their ideas implemented, they will become more likely to offer new suggestions.

Obviously, you can’t implement every suggestion. But move forward with the best ideas and provide feedback on the less realistic proposals. Even the unworkable ideas will spark a dialog, which will push the overall process forward.

Employee suggestions represent a powerful agent of change. This is especially true if you have exceptional employees. A strong recruiting agency, like SmartTalent, can bring you the innovative workers you need.

Contact SmartTalent today to locate the ideal hires for your organization.

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