Engaging employees and their ideas as part of your long term success strategy means you’re planning and implementing ideas the way most innovative companies do. You’ve recognized the potential and invested your time and money into getting your employees and their managers and team leaders on board. Everything is moving along smoothly and then one of your team’s communication patterns falls off. Ideas have stopped flowing and now it’s up to you to identify the problem.
At first glance, it looks like all the protocols you set up are in place and everyone is communicating and doing what they are supposed to be doing. But there is one people-centric situation you might not have prepared for.
This situation occurs when an employee from one area approaches the manager from another area with an idea. The employee is excited to share their idea, but the manager is less than enthusiastic, and instead of being responsive to the outside input, the manager feels the pressure of having missed something. After all, if someone from a different department was able to see something, then shouldn’t the manager of that department have been able to see the bigger picture and identify the potential as well?
This manager probably has a history of following all the guidelines and procedures of your strategy, but in his or her mind, in this situation, this employee has stepped over an invisible boundary and is now a job performance / security risk.
Self-preservation is a powerful motivator. People have honorable intentions, but if their job security survival mode unconsciously kicks in, it may override your system. The manager doesn’t deliberately plan to reject the input. Instead, they dismiss, misplace, ignore, or forget the outsider’s idea.
Survival mode can kick in for employees as well. If one employee starts pointing out potentials or flaws in a co-workers area rather than in their own, the co-worker may feel like the employee crossed over the line by talking about something outside their station.
These kinds of invisible boundaries exist within every system. The reason they are invisible is because people don’t always agree with what and where they are. One solution is to acknowledge that idea management systems are likely to push everybody’s boundaries. Managers will feel threatened when employees come to them with the obvious. Employees will feel threatened when co-workers look for potential beyond the boundaries of their own station.
The million dollar question is - how will you address the inevitable in a way that turns it into the improbable?
Idea Share Tip of the Month!
Sometimes middle managers block ideas to get their work done. They are simply squeezed for time and resources and are busy ‘putting out fires.’ Middle management simply does not have the time to proactively think about ideas that will achieve desired outcomes and strategic goals.
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Frame of Mind Consulting understands the unique DNA of your organization, which is necessary to turn any organization into one capable of leveraging the full idea potential of its employees. Would you like to drive connectivity and ownership throughout your company? Contact me at (860) 559-7942 to set up your complimentary consultation during which you will receive some invaluable tips that you can apply to your business right away.