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Of the many clients, I coach I notice that a growing number of them express a desire to be recognized for their ideas that might make a valuable difference in their organizations’ success. What seems very important to them is to have a sense that their ideas are at least being listened to by their upper management.  When hearing this repeatedly, it begs asking, are they?

To address this, we asked the TIPP Poll respondents if they felt their ideas were being listened to at work. We found that a majority, or 65% of those polled, believe that the organizations where they work are open to their ideas in that their ideas might improve the operations or positively impact the organization's mission. Of the 65%, 29% strongly agree, and 36% somewhat agree. When examining more closely, of the 23% who disagree, it appears that they are either 18 to 24 years old or over 65 years old, make under $30,000 or make between $50,000 to $75,000 per year.

While the majority believe their organization is open to their ideas, the bigger story from a leadership perspective is that they need to repeatedly ask for the employees’ ideas regardless of age. Simply by doing that, employees can feel as if they have a more significant part to play in the organization’s success. To keep the ideas flowing, management needs to periodically remind employees that ideas are not edicts or proclamations. They are indicators of involvement and even pride in a person’s role in an organization.

It's not unusual for employees’ ideas to morph into an official policy. When the idea fails to move forward, it’s helpful for management to explain why and show appreciation for the effort. This will motivate that employee, and others, to continue offering ideas. Who knows? Ideas have ways of stimulating others to think, and eventually, one catches fire.

When working with one product development team in the telecommunications industry, I was reminded that it takes at least eight good ideas before one is selected to go to the next stage. So, leaders need to remind employees not to get discouraged, but instead, keep the ideas coming. It is also important for leaders to view ideas as a healthy stimulant for their organizations and not to be afraid of them. In that regard, I like what Pearl Buck once said – “You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.”

Deborah Bright is the founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., an executive coaching and training organization, and the author of six books, including The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM, 2014).


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