Why your Employees aren’t Innovative


Management may be the ones responsible for making decisions, but they can always use some fresh insights. Employees are a solid source of new ideas.                 

Trae Tessmann|
September 28, 2016

Everyone has ideas, but why aren’t they the ones you’re looking for?


Management may be the ones responsible for making decisions, but they can always use some fresh insights and feedback. Whether their focus is on improving the bottom-line, boosting innovation strategy, or just sparking some company-wide conversation, employees are a solid source of new ideas. They’re the ones on the front-line, speaking with customers, pushing the levers, and keeping everything running smoothly, so why aren’t they speaking up?


Too often, engaging employees for new ideas is impersonal, passive, and open-ended. Management puts out a suggestion box or holds a brainstorming session, asking “Do you have any ideas? What can we do better? What do you want?”. Answers are broad or not applicable, management is disappointed by the results, and nothing is done. As it turns out, just asking for ideas is not enough if you’re serious about engagement and improvement.


INTERACTIVE – Are you actually ready to Innovate?


It may seem paradoxical, but engagement in innovation and idea generation is much higher with context and limitations. There need to be guidelines, and the questions management is asking must be detailed and realistic. When the questions are specific, employees know what management is looking for, and can answer accordingly. Their answers and ideas are of higher quality, they get more feedback, and see more of their concepts implemented. Everyone wins.


Management already knows what they’re looking to do, and just need to be vocal about sharing those goals with the groups that can help and encourage them to get involved. And while it’s important to limit the scope of feedback their looking for, they shouldn’t limit the groups their engaging with. An accountant might have an idea for a new product, a designer might have read something about lean operations, or the receptionist may have a feeling about a new market for the company’s offering. Gathering these specific insights from diverse sources promotes divergent thinking, encourages cross-departmental collaboration, and gives management what they want – a consistent flow of new ideas from their innovative workforce.


About Trae Tessmann

Co-founder of Ideawake

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