Often employee ideas are not fully developed or described to evaluate fully. It takes time to educate your employees on how to submit an idea and what ideas you are looking for. The key to better ideas is explaining to employees what makes a good idea and what types of ideas you want them to focus on. Here are some ways to get better ideas.
Pick a top 10. One way to good ideas is to explicitly provide hints on what ideas you want. You may be building a new facility or looking at the cost of your top supply items. Displaying a “10 Most Wanted” poster around the organization will help solicit ideas on these or other timely issues. Identifying what you want ideas on, and providing special promotions where awards could be doubled for any idea that is implemented will really get the focus of your employees.
Ask for Team Ideas. As the saying goes, “two heads are better than one”. This is certainly true for your suggestion program. In fact, you will find that team ideas are about 3 times more likely to be implemented than individual ideas. With more people looking at a process or high cost supply item, more options are considered and more feasible solutions are proposed. Once again, you can provide special incentives for team ideas to encourage employees to form groups that will think of new ways to do things.
Explain what is not clear. Another way to get better ideas is to provide criteria and questions when responding back to employee ideas. Instead of simply rejecting a good but undeveloped idea, provide a list of things that you think would have to be overcome in order implement the idea, or additional information needed from the employee. The employee can reconsider the idea and provide further details.
Provide Idea Guidebooks. Providing a simple guidebook on how to develop ideas is also useful. Be sure to include such things as how employees can find ideas in their work areas, how to explain their solution in sufficient detail, and how to submit an idea. General Information on what is eligible and what is not will also help. Combined with an annual promotion event or new employee orientation, these guidebooks could be used in team “idea training” sessions on how to develop ideas!