In the blog “Building an Organizational Culture of Trust and Respect,” the importance of defining the purpose and values of an organization as the foundation of building a culture was discussed. Once that foundation has been laid, organizations need to make sure they build processes and an atmosphere to support employee input.
Dale Carnegie said, “People support a world they help to create.” In other words, when we allow them to share ideas and give input, and act on that input, they feel more connected and are more likely to support that world. Employees can give input through formal tools such as employee surveys, employee focus groups, to more informal tools such as asking their opinions in departmental or project meetings.
When employees give input and they feel it was not considered, it can demotivate them from giving input in the future. An example would be suggestion boxes that are mounted in the hallway. Over time many of them remain empty because employees feel if they put a suggestion in nothing happens with it. Employees can start to look at it as an insincere gesture that reveals the organization really does not care about their opinion. The key is that once the input is given, organizations need to do something with that feedback.
Here are three steps to help employees feel their input is important:
1) Communicate Results. No matter what tool you are using to gather employee input make sure to communicate the results. This should be done in a way that everyone has a clear understanding of the information and what will be done/has been done with the results. Trust and respect for management is built when employees feel the organization communicates with transparency.
2) Use a Decision Matrix. If you are trying to decide on something employees were asked to give their opinions on, a decision matrix evaluates and prioritizes input for consideration. Absolute and desirable criteria can give a clear explanation of the ideas that will be acted upon vs those that are not going to be considered at this time. This matrix criterion should be shared with the employees giving input. Trust and respect are developed when employees know input is evaluated on a consistent basis.
3) Recognize & Reward. When input was given that will help the organization move forward in a positive way make sure to recognize the person or group that gave the input. Recognition and reward ensure employees know that the organization values their opinions. Trust and respect grow when employees know that the managers are not stealing the ideas as their own, but instead, they recognize where they came from.
When an organization shows employees it trusts and respects their input, it creates loyalty and engagement. Organizations that intentionally grow a positive culture of trust and respect will be able to leverage the most important asset any organization has, it’s employees, to succeed during the tough times and thrive far into the future.