Not every problem in an organization makes it all the way to the CEO's ears. That's why it is important as a leader to set the expectation that all employees are problem solvers. If someone sees an issue and has an idea to fix it, they should feel comfortable sharing it. Letting problems fester can create negative undercurrents among employees and potentially impact the customer experience.
Leadership guru and award-winning author David Dye identifies two reasons why employees don't offer up solutions more often: no one asked directly, and employees don't think anything happens afterward.
To address these sentiments, Dye offers seven ways leaders can respond to employees' suggestions and encourage more solutions:
- Say "thank you." Acknowledging an employee's contribution and effort makes them feel valued.
- Share the process. If it's a solution you're going to implement, let the employee know the timeframe and other priorities that impact it.
- Tell them what happened. Whether you move forward with a solution or not, tell the employee so they know you appreciate their input and looked into it.
- Provide more information. If there's an idea you abandon, share why it didn't work and what could be helpful going forward.
- Invite more solutions. Encourage your team to keep working on solutions, even if their first one didn't pan out. This will motivate them to keep problem solving.
- Involve them in trials or implementation. Including employees when determining the benefits, potential pitfalls and costs of a solution will provide them with insights to better hone future ideas.
- Celebrate solutions. This inspires team members to keep improving and will boost your solution-oriented work environment.
You build brand loyalty by providing your customers with the best products and services possible. Keeping customers – and employees – happy will allow you to grow, and creating an environment where employees feel empowered to drive solutions will keep problems from getting out of hand.
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About the Author
B. Dan Berger became NAFCU president and CEO on Aug. 1, 2013. He was promoted to executive vice president of government affairs in July 2009 after joining NAFCU in January 2006 as senior vice president of government affairs overseeing five divisions including legislative affairs, regulatory affairs, research/economics, regulatory compliance and political affairs/PAC.