Given that we all currently have more than enough time on our hands to think about our business and to compare the strategies that work, those that don’t, how we will relaunch the business PC (Post Covid) and so on it occurs to me that part of this review should be to also take a proper look at the relationship with our staff? There is seldom anything in an organisation which can’t be improved and it may be that this present forced hiatus is an opportunity to start to better cultivate and harvest the collective ideas and views of the wider team?
Over the years we have all attended plenty of Management lectures and seminars and probably some of us have also read plenty of ‘Management’ manuals and books as well! They are of course, (both seminars and books) often laced with witty management anecdotes and cliches and one of my favorites has always been that ‘Management don’t have a monopoly on good ideas’. It is a truism of course but one that is so often ignored by many members of both middle and senior management. It always amazes me that that although someone has climbed up the management ladder it is wrong to assume that they have carried with them a modicum of common sense in managing relationships with their team but have instead left that behind and brought along a not insignificant amount of hubris. In fairness sometimes they have done a bit less climbing up the ladder and instead have been catapulted into greatness on the basis of their qualifications as opposed to their experience… It is of course true that some of these Wunderkind do have an EQ which matches their IQ (and these people do stand out) but far too many other ‘Managers’ genuinely believe that they really do have a monopoly on good ideas, and that anyone further down the business structure has little or no idea of the bigger picture and is therefore incapable of making any sort of valid contribution over and above what they are paid to do. As in the famous scene from the film Pretty Woman, ‘Big mistake! Big! Huge!'
It is my view that you can easily foster an atmosphere and culture within the organisation where everyone feels that they do have a voice and that if they make a suggestion it won’t be immediately disregarded, or derided (or worse still regarded as the emergence of a fifth column within the business). Achieve this and then not only do you suddenly have a rich stream of new ideas that you can take on board, deconstruct if necessary, finesse and then trial but you also have a work force who feel more involved and more motivated to help you drive the business forwards. Of course I am not suggesting that the business should suddenly become some kind of kibbutz as clearly business isn’t a democracy, someone has to be in charge, and the buck definitely has to stop somewhere but you can deal with all that in the way that you receive ideas and suggestions. Recognizing and rewarding every idea in some small way is a great way of reinforcing to staff that you do indeed welcome and value their intellectual contribution. Consider awarding monthly or annual prizes for the best suggestions (as this really does foster a collective enthusiasm for the process) and let it become an integral part of the organisational calendar but a word of warning here, if you are going to do this, then do it consistently, don’t let it just be a flash in the pan!
So in short, irrespective of the size of the business you are responsible for, listen to your team, encourage them to think about what they do for you every day and if they do come up with something that may improve the business, reward that thought process and also use those two little words that mean so much to everyone, (but which are regarded by poor managers as a sign of weakness), say ‘well done’, or ‘good job’ or possibly even ‘you are a complete rock star’. Yes, yes, I know that was more than two words…