“Thank you for such great ideas. I have put them forward for discussion.” ‘Thank you for this excellent idea. We are so fortunate to have someone like you on our team.” And then …… nothing. A black hole. This has happened to me personally, the last time, quite recently.
As an advisor, it is something that I meet regularly – firms that ask their employees for feedback but then the employees never hear anything further. It is a big demotivator that creates really bad feeling: “maybe my ideas are stupid? I won’t make them again.” “They are stuck in their ways. They don’t really want suggestions” “They find it impossible to build on someone else’s idea”. These sorts of reactions do not enhance your reputation, nor do they create a great employee experience.
Often, it is managers’ own insecurity that stops them going back to people. They feel they should have thought of this. Maybe it had been at the back of their minds, but they hadn’t had the impetus to do it. They don’t know how to say that this is not a viable idea. Sometimes, they just don’t have the time or resources to take something forward. Faced with a lot of feedback managers pick up on the suggestions that fit their plans, or are easiest to implement and discard others, even significant or profitable ones. I recall one survey with a major national group where the feedback showed discontent around management development and to a lesser extent around reward. The HR function revised their reward strategy, but as they had poor learning and development capability never acted upon that feedback. The issue kicked around for years with hidden costs around retention and productivity.
As we move through the next transition stage out of lockdown, we must take stock of how people’s expectations have changed through the experience of the pandemic, where they have become used to daily bulletins, and social media opportunities to voice their opinions. Now is the time for organisations to conduct ‘listening exercises,’ but managers must then engage in meaningful dialogue and not let ideas and perceptions fall into the black hole.
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©Janice Caplan 2020