Let’s Talk Business for March 1, 2024

One great idea can change the trajectory of your company. Did you know that the idea for the frappuccino — one of Starbucks’ most popular drinks — came from an employee? Amazing things can happen when you encourage employees to innovate and share their ideas about how the company can be improved. Here are ways to put these ideas into action.

Giving your employees a way to submit their ideas isn’t enough — your business needs a process for evaluating and iterating those ideas. Have a team in place to review employee ideas and determine which ones are worth exploring. You can also create a platform where employees can collaborate and debate different ideas. Involving employees in this creative process ensures that all ideas receive equal consideration.

Individuals who regularly provide feedback and share their ideas are probably your most engaged employees. According to Gallup, workplaces with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable than their competitors.

While you can’t act on every good idea an employee brings to the table, you should acknowledge employees for contributing. Publicly commend that employee and any other employees who helped refine the idea. And consider giving a significant reward to employees whose ideas are implemented. By acknowledging and rewarding their efforts, employees will be more willing to continue sharing their ideas in the future.

Once you have your objectives outlined, create a to-do list and get other employees involved. Not only will this help complete the project more quickly, but it will also go a long way toward getting buy-in from other employees. Many workplace projects fail because management doesn’t get other employees on board with the idea. Don’t assume everyone will support the project just because the idea came from an employee. Communicate why the idea will benefit everyone at the company and continue to provide as much information as possible.

Planning is the most tedious aspect of any workplace project, but without a plan, employee ideas are likely to wither on the vine and die. A plan serves as a road map to guide your team from beginning to end. Start by creating a list of objectives you’ll need to meet to accomplish your big goal. You want to develop objectives that are specific and measurable so that everyone understands what needs to be done. As you begin implementing the plan, keep the team focused on the end result, and don’t let other ideas distract you from your ultimate goal.

Once the project is complete, take time to evaluate the successes and failures. Learning from your mistakes helps you improve your idea management process and ensure that nothing gets overlooked.

The Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce offers many resources to help you start, run, and grow your business–including our annual Leadership Emporia Academy, monthly Group Lunches, Ribbon Cuttings, Business After Hours events, Legislative Dialogues, and more. Stop by the Trusler Business Center at 719 Commercial St., call 620-342-1600, or visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org to learn more.

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“Let’s Talk Business” is a weekly column of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Emporia. The mission of the Chamber is to be proactive in creating an environment for business and community success, guided by the vision that positive attitudes promote positive actions. Contact us at 620-342-1600 or chamber@emporiakschamber.org and visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org.