You probably spend a lot of time thinking about these things, and come up with some pretty good ideas for how to accomplish this. Yet, have you ever noticed employees aren’t always as excited as you about your new ideas? You might find yourself walking around muttering, “Why can’t my employees just get on board? Why can’t they just see the value in what I’m trying to implement?”
How do you get employees on board with innovation?
Recently, Chuck Parmely, owner of The Overhead Door Company of Riverton & Lander tried something different. Instead of trying to figure it all out on his own, he asked his employees a powerful question:
If you could change anything in this company with the way it does business, what would you change?
Chuck wants change to be a “we thing.” He got a lot of good answers and ideas from asking this question of his employees.
This question is powerful in several ways:
1) Employees will always have a different perspective on the business than you will. Often they are directly involved in delivering your product or service to the customer. Simply because of what they do day in and day out, they see opportunities and challenges that you as the owner will never see.
2) When employees know you want their input, they will share it with you.
3) Ask this question of your employees on a regular basis – monthly! Why? Even if you think you have an open door policy and your employees know you welcome their input, as an employee, it is just really awkward to walk up to your boss and say, “I think we should do this differently…”
On the other hand, if your employees know you will ask this question in a meeting every month, they will feel much more comfortable sharing ideas because their ideas have been explicitly invited.
4) The real beauty of this question is that YOU don’t have to do all of the thinking about innovation. Let your employees give you ideas for how to innovate. They’ll have lots of ideas. Your job will shift from being the one who comes up with all the “great” ideas (that no one wants to implement) to being the one who puts ideas together in the most effective ways to improve your business’ Area of Innovation.
5) When you are trying to implement something new that your employees have suggested, they are already on board with the idea. After all, it came from them!
Combine asking this question of your employees with regularly asking powerful questions of your top customers and you will be on your way to creating a strong niche in your market that no other business can even come close to competing with.