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Value Creation Blog

Starting A Suggestion Program, Have A Plan

Posted by Josh Patrick

 One of the best ways to improve your company is to have a formal suggestion program.  Employees have great ideas and we just need to ask and implement them for the ideas to start pouring out.

The problem with many suggestion programs is the suggestions are not implemented.  This is because many companies start a suggestion program with no idea how to evaluate or implement ideas.  Without understanding how you’re going to evaluate and implement will lead to failure instead of success.

A suggestion program if implemented properly can be a very strong way of saying to your employees that you care about them, think they’re smart, and appreciate them trying to make your company better.  Without a plan the opposite could happen.  Your employees might become discouraged and convinced that you don’t care about them or your company.

Many suggestion programs are met with cynicism.  Many times a suggestion program is announced and is met with at best a giant yawn.  Employees have been though this drill before. 

Their company has announced a suggestion program with a great deal of fanfare and nothing happens.  They might make a few suggestions and they never hear back again about the suggestion they made.

This is because the company doesn’t have a method of evaluating and implementing suggestions that are received.  If you’re going to start a program you must know who is going to be responsible for evaluating, who is responsible for implementing, and if there are too many suggestions that also has to be handled.

Starting small is the key for success.  You are going to have to prove to your employees that you are serious about your suggestion program.  You are asking your employees to be partners in making your company better.

Communication is a key to making your employees feel valued and suggestions made are important.  If an idea is implemented you must let people know that you’ve taken their suggestion.  If the suggestion isn’t a good one ask questions that can help your employees make the suggestion better.  If the suggestion is impractical you must tell your employees why the idea won’t work.

Suggestion programs create work and change.  No one likes change.  Or at least, those who are charged with implementing a suggestion might not like the change.  Change is often a little uncomfortable and it certainly creates work. 

Having a clear mission about what you’re company is about can help.  Making sure your supervisors and managers understand why the suggestion program is important as a key to success.

The last and likely the most important part of a suggestion program is ownership commitment.  You can’t start the program and stop it.  This creates cynicism in your rank and file employees. 

They’ve seen it before.  A program is started and in just a few short weeks the program magically disappears.  If this is the cycle your company has, don’t do a suggestion program.  Start with something easier.

A suggestion program is difficult to run and implement.  Proper planning can help your program be a success.  The choice of doing it for a short period of time or doing it right is up to you.

Josh Patrick

A good suggestion program might force you to change what you do.  Click on the button below to get our report on relationship and roles in your business.

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Topics: relationship, roles, Change

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