Sometimes you can see the fear in the eyes of CEO’s and top managers when you mention listening to their employees. They firmly believe that any idea collection process will result in an overload of ideas from disgruntled employees.

Furthermore, many of these ideas will not result in overall gains. Who would want a system that receives an overload on new cafeteria menu suggestions, sharing of their incomplete thoughts without any build up, or their irrelevant observations? Generally, these companies will also already have a something akin to a SharePoint solution that they think is the answer.

I am not going to go into a detailed discussion here on whether or not employee satisfaction leads to higher retention in the organization. Although it is important and should be remembered, this particular horn has already been blown too many times already and provides no new value for you. However, there is something concerning the status quo of the organization that is causing disgruntled employees.

Providing a frame to learn and solve these issues should be an urgent activity. Employee empowerment is an excellent way to increase satisfaction. Giving employees a forum to be able to discuss and contribute towards the organization will alleviate disgruntlement. Additionally, there are also valuable learning opportunities available to those who listen.

How to Frame the Idea Collection:

1) Make it Challenge-Specific

Firstly, in order to avoid the overflow of irrelevant ideas, focus each collection of ideas around a specific problem or issue. Narrowing the scope will help the company prioritize solutions and provide a set of boundaries around the idea collection, thus increasing the value of the contributions. It is important to note that providing the reasoning behind the particular challenge will increase employee understanding of the importance to the organization while signaling transparency.

2) Set Achievable Goals

The collection of ideas is not the desired outcome of a challenge. It is about solving a problem within the organization. Goals need to be achievable. Decide on available resources, desired results and what will define “success.” Determine the scope of the goals on these practical limitations.

Setting the goal using S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) criteria is ideal for the development of actionable goals. The balancing act is making sure that the objective is still open enough to be solved using different potential solutions.

3) Action them!

Finally, you need to put the successful ideas into action. This step is the hardest part of most idea collections. However, as long as you consider resources when developing the goal, it should not be a big barrier. Asking for employee input and not listening will only increase disgruntlement of employees. Therefore, it is important that someone is responsible for moving the ideas forward to the right area as soon as a decision deems an idea valuable.

Quick fixes occur on multiple occasions, increasing employee satisfaction with minimal effort. There is no need to wait until the idea collection period is over. Execute valuable ideas straight away. You will reduce time to implementation, as well as the strain on resources.

4) Communicate it

Don’t forget to communicate. Highlighting the successes of the idea collection increases employee engagement and future participation in these programs. One Challenge does not solve all the disgruntled employees’ problems. However, seeing that the company is listening to employees and changing, even subtly, will mitigate much of the built up resentment. Furthermore, disgruntled employees will seek to be involved in future activities to help improve the organization.

Alivate Disgruntled Employees? Remember: Frame, Listen, Action

Disgruntled employees have an issue with the status quo of the company. Ignoring them is problematic, as there may be fundamental issues that could exacerbate over time. By framing your idea collections into specific challenges, setting reasonable goals and making sure some change occurs, you can be certain to improve idea collection, sorting, and selection of new ideas. Additionally, seeing and hearing these changes taking place will help temper discontent employees, while also increasing engagement and satisfaction of other employees within the organization. What is there to lose?

Collect ideas from your employees by framing their participation using an Idea Management system. You can read more at Ideanote