When it comes to improving your business, where do the ideas come from? Department heads? The top boss? Or even the company owners, who only check in every few months?
It’s natural that the people at the top of the pyramid feel like they see enough of the big picture to determine how to make the business more profitable, more responsive to customers or a more enjoyable place to work all-round. However, more often than not, these plans don’t stick for more than a few months – why?
It’s simple. Without talking to the bigger workforce from the beginning, top-down plans are doomed to fail in the end. If your company is crying out for improvement, here’s how the simple step of listening to your employees can make it happen, all with a little help from an Audience Response System.
Start on the right foot
It’s unanimous that something needs to change… or is it? The first step is to work out whether your ground-level employees perceive the same needs as you do. Maybe you agree that things could be different, but there are multiple opinions about what those things are.
Identify the key areas for change and ask everyone involved to prioritise them individually. Run focus groups, team meetings and town-hall gatherings to make sure that nobody is left out. Using an ARS with each employee having their own handset makes sure everyone has an equal voice.
Ask the audience
Before planning how to implement change, see if your employees have their own suggestions. Maybe they know exactly what they would do instead, or maybe they’ve got a rough idea that could be fully developed. Either way, don’t rule them out as a source of inspiration.
To preserve anonymity, you could use a suggestion box to collect ideas before presenting them for peer review and voting (again, the perfect job for an ARS). It opens up discussion and lets your teams know that their work matters – both of which will make staff more likely to be on-board when a new strategy is devised.
Once you’ve generated some ideas for change and listened to which suggestions your employees are most on board with, it’s time to turn them into initiatives. This should be an iterative process, where you start forming actionable goals and strategies but let your teams see them as a work-in-progress along the way. That way, any foreseeable problems can be identified and ironed-out before being cemented into your new programme.
Think your plan is complete? It’s time to present the final strategy to your workforce and – here’s the crucial part – checking that they understand exactly what you’re going for. Even if they helped to come up with the ideas, it might not be obvious how their first thoughts have been transformed. Explain how the plan fits with existing company values, the future of the firm and how the proposed changes will impact every day operations.
Use anonymous voting to test comprehension and address any feedback or last-minute suggestions for improvement or clarification before rolling your plan out.
By communicating with your teams and keeping an open feedback loop, you won’t have to blame another cycle of change on budget restraints, poor timing or the wrong company culture. All the insight you need for a successful step forward is already in your employees’ hands.