How do I encourage employees to share ideas on business growth?

Q: I value my employees' ideas on growing our company but some staff don't have the confidence to make their opinion known. How can I encourage them to have their say?

Ideas are the fuel that drives your business forward, but good ideas are sometimes hard to come by. Utilising your best asset, your employees is a sure fire way to help generate new concepts and ideas that could help boost motivation and increase productivity in the workplace. Every manager wants to innovate and lead their team to success, but with so many personalities to deal with, how do you, the employer ensure that you are supporting introverted colleagues to come forward with positive ideas to help shape the company?

By nature, employees who feel uncomfortable in social situations and in communicating confidently are less likely to spontaneously direct new ideas to their management team. The key to increasing comfort levels with those members of staff less confident is to adjust your management style and implement various channels of communication to encourage participation.

Such individuals may not like to be put on the spot, firing questions at shy employees and expecting an immediate response will only send them deeper into their own shell. Instead, set up an informal team brief where you can discuss the issues that need addressing and encourage employees to develop solutions to the problems in their own time. This will allow those employees to take the time to collect their thoughts and reflect upon what they would like to say. Additionally, give your staff the option of coming to you directly or placing their ideas in a suggestion box or bulletin board to avoid unnecessary levels of discomfort and embarrassment that stem from one to one interaction.

Another potential method to encourage idea formation from introverted employees is to virtualise communication. Many individuals often prefer solitary time spent in front of their computer, using emails to communicate with employees will encourage those who fear speaking publicly to allow their fingers to do the talking. Giving reserved or timid employees the time to respond from the comfort of their own environment will facilitate more open and honest responses. Allow them the opportunity to email their thoughts and ideas without risk of embarrassment or judgement.

Every employee holds their own natural strengths. Demonstrating the ability to modify how you approach and communicate with employees dependent on their personality will show that you value your employees as individuals. What’s more, it should encourage a wider participation from employees who before felt apprehensive to speak up.

David Price is managing director of Health Assured.

Further reading on entrepreneurship

David Price

David Price

David Price is CEO of Health Assured, a part of the Peninsula Group.

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