I’ve seen this happen many times:
- Employee to Manager: I’ve got a great idea and think that by doing x we will get y,z and extra outcomes.
- Manager Responds: Yes that is good, and if you would just do p, q, and r we would achieve y, z and more outcomes. It seems rather obvious, don’t you think?
- Employee to Manager: Yeah I see I will do it that way.
Of course the manager has a better idea! The manager’s idea was triggered by the employees initial idea.
In discussion our brains are inspired by what we hear and see. Inspiring and building in iterative leaps. When one person starts the conversation with an idea people grab and build new perhaps better ideas.
This is a management problem
People in this company don’t think for themselves and just cannot figure out the solutions without managements’ help. The ideas they come up with are short-sighted and I seem to always be pointing out better alternatives.
This management perception combined with a culture that believes the manager’s ideas are always the best (even when they aren’t) leads to negative consequences to employees who present ideas to management.
Leading to a team of people that come to meetings with no ideas or just don’t share them anymore. Reinforcing belief by management that people “just don’t get-it, and I have to come up with all the creative ideas around here.”
How to Stop it and let people have their ideas
This can be tough for a manager to be self-aware, plus be able to separate themselves from the work enough to allow the work to get done. Some of the solution falls back to having a ‘Big Enough’ manager to set the goals and expectations then let the employee have the autonomy to complete their own work.
- When someone comes to you with an idea – Listen and ask coaching questions.
- Ask yourself, Is this idea aligned with the QQT/R goals that were established? If yes then let them go and arrange a follow-up time. If not…
- If not – Pause, take a breath and ask That is a great idea and at this time the work in focusing on these goals x, y, z help me see how that idea fits into the goals right now?
- The idea may be useful later. If it is ask them to include the idea into the ‘solutions or ideas bank’ for that part of the work…or it may be useful now.
- Ask, based upon the idea you shared and the current work we are doing how do you see this being most useful? What is the best way to share this idea with the team? Are you OK with the team listening and offering alternatives?
If as the manager you set the goals adequately and are Big Enough to add value to the work the idea is useful and fits into the work to be done.
- Thank the person for the idea and continually ask the team and people for more great ideas.
The minute you think that no-one has any great ideas or believe that you have to be the hero is when you are blind to your own negative reinforcement of people.
What do you think?
What else can be done to stop this? How can you ensure that people’s ideas are heard and respected?
michael cardus is create-learning