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Sweeping Employee Training and Management

Employee Involvement Programs Drive Performance

by Gregory P. Smith

Soliciting employees' ideas and getting their involvement is critical in our rapidly changing world. If your company is going to be competitive, it's mandatory to involve not just the labor, but the ideas from everyone in your organization.

Why is it important to capture ideas and suggestions? For starters, the process improves individual motivation and morale. Involvement programs help capture the creativity, energy, and ideas many people have. They also allow departments and individuals to work cross-functionally, and create an environment of learning and constant renewal.

Involvement programs continually improve work methods and processes, reduce the costs of doing business, improve safety and reduce accidents. Exchanging ideas always improves communication and the knowledge that top management is open and willing to act on the ideas improves trust.

Although good in theory, most suggestion programs fail. Suggestion boxes often collect dust and approved suggestions are few and far between. An effective variation to the suggestion program is the Idea Campaign. Lasting a mere three weeks, this steroid-enriched campaign generates many ideas.

The goal is to get at least one idea from everyone in the organization. For the first idea, each person receives a small token of appreciation such as a coffee cup. A second idea is acknowledged with another form of appreciation. At the end of each week, a special award ceremony recognizes everyone who offered ideas or suggestions. Individuals whose names are drawn from a basket receive other prizes and gifts.

Because the program only lasts three weeks, it generates a tremendous amount of focused energy and motivation. No one wants to be left out, so everyone participates. All ideas have to be considered and there is instantaneous recognition for the ideas presented. For participants, the most powerful force is not the awards, but the feeling that management is listening to their ideas.

This article is reprinted from American Sweeper magazine, Volume 9 Number 1, 2004.

Greg Smith is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and business performance consultant. He has written numerous books and is the President and "Captain of the Ship" of a management-consulting firm, Chart Your Course International, located in Atlanta, Georgia. Phone him at 770-860-9464, or reach him via email sent to

Greg Smith

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