From Dissertation to Director: Why Everyone is Qualified to Influence Change
One of the most significant assets of any company is its people, and the best thing about people is that they are all different. And being different means you see, feel and hear things in different ways. So why are employees concerned that their management team won’t take on board the ideas and observations of someone who is more Junior than them?
Everyone in a business has a value, a reason they are there and an opportunity to make the company better. If you encourage your employees to take that opportunity and run with it, then the business can often benefit from some valid points that influence a change you could have never imagined.
No matter how well you think you might know your team or your entire staff base, it never hurts to ask for regular input and feedback. Getting opinions from your staff about the state of the business, what they would improve about their roles or the dynamics of the team will really help inform future decisions and ensure your staff feel included.
Additionally, everyone likes to be recognised for their achievements – no matter how big or small – in their own way, so generating ideas for how employees best like to be recognised is a good starting point. It’s part of getting to know your staff: find out what matters to them, what their goals are and how they want to be rewarded. Make sure that recognition is encouraged at all levels, from Junior to Senior, and use reviews as a chance to make sure employees are happy, growing in their roles and can raise any concerns they may have.
Decisions from the frontline
Employees must not feel afraid to influence change. Some of the best decisions and suggestions are made by those on the frontline, the ones who truly live and breathe the business, and you can be any level, sit anywhere in the hierarchy and be any type of qualified to make that judgement. After all, these are the people that genuinely see what’s going on, and often the people who the decisions and changes affect. MD’s, CEO’s and Board Directors are there for a reason, and they hold those positions because they deliver, but as part of that role, it is easy to lose sight of what's happening on the ground momentarily. Employees of all levels can provide the eyes and ears; they know the customers, products, services and the rest of the team better than anyone else. So as employers we must encourage them to influence a change that we know will make a positive difference; in turn, you will have motivated and engaged employees that want to see the business succeed.
Spend time fostering a culture that empowers your team to collect a case, discuss ideas with others in the team and then makes suggestions to the board or management team in a professional and considered way. And if they aren’t bold enough to do this in person think about putting in place an anonymous forum to allow for more free speech and give employees the confidence to speak up in person next time without fear of any backlash.
With this in mind though, it is crucial to always explain to employees why a no is a no sometimes. Whether it might not be the right time for a change, cost, or other changes already taking place, it’s important they aren’t left feeling disheartened by a no-decision, without an explanation. You don’t want them to lose the passion and drive to influence a change that they had to begin with, but of course, not every idea will be a yes every time. Strike a balance between clearly explaining the team implications, as well as why it might not be suitable for the growth or plans for the business, offering an alternative where applicable.
If businesses can learn to put these simple steps in place and empower their staff with free speech, the ability to share and drive ideas then the entire company will know that any employee, regardless of job title, is qualified to influence a change truly.