Most professionals and support people welcome the opportunity to provide ideas for doing new things and for doing things better. These may be concerned with services, processes, systems or structures. They may be relevant to client service, marketing, organization, information technology, management, relationships or the firm’s culture. Tapping the ideas that people have about improving performance has two payoffs. Good ideas that are implemented clearly benefit the firm. Giving people the opportunity to put forward their ideas creates a sense of belonging and being valued beyond the contributions of the day-to-day job. Senior professionals expect to be able to contribute their thoughts on these matters. Good team leaders tap their thinking but also seek out the ideas of junior professionals and support people.
There are some important points to bear in mind. The starting point is to make it known you are always keen to receive ideas on improving the team’s or the firm’s performance. However, that is not enough. It is beneficial also to provide time for team members to work together to generate and evaluate ideas. As well as being motivational, brainstorming and similar sessions, when well handled, enhance teamwork. They invariably give rise to one or two valuable ideas that can be implemented. More thoughts on how to use teams to generate and evaluate ideas are given in Getting The Best Out of People Working Together .
Beware, however, of the demoralizing effects of encouraging the provision of ideas but failing to implement the good ones. Beware also of failing to explain why those ideas that can’t be implemented for whatever reason are not being progressed.