Lead ideas through to action
by Amy Beth Miller, editor, Communication Briefings
Only a third of the readers who responded to last month’s poll said they are seeing many gains as a result of their brainstorming sessions. Two-thirds told us that they have lots of ideas but no follow-through.
Take these actions to ensure that your brainstorming sessions aren’t a waste of time:
- Set the parameters. Posing the challenge the right way can avoid ending a session with a list of ideas that have no hope of moving forward. Encourage team members to voice any idea that can lead to the ultimate goal, but then refine ideas based on the limits you face. Example: “How could we do that without adding staff?”
- Involve others. Including employees from throughout your organization adds greater perspective to your brainstorming session, but it also does something else that is very important: It gives people in other departments a stake in seeing those ideas succeed.
- Establish deadlines. Once you have vetted the ideas and decided which to pursue, make specific assignments. Remember that you can pursue ideas in multiple timelines. Example: Jon can implement a simple idea by week’s end while Addison checks with multiple vendors about a more complex idea and reports back to the team on her progress next month.
- Follow up with participants. Keep the people who contributed to the brainstorming session in the loop. If you tell them about a roadblock, they might have another idea to work around it. If you have put an idea on hold until next quarter, when more funding will be available, tell them that too. Otherwise they will lose enthusiasm for the effort.
- Try small-scale tests. Pilot projects allow you to try ideas without a major investment in resources and to fine-tune them before a full rollout.
How to coach employees
Diane Reichard, finance director for the city of Temple Terrace, Fla., responded to our invitation to share your best practices for coaching team members. Here’s her advice:
“Talking to your staff daily is key,” Reichard wrote. “They get to know you and see how you respond to their work. I wish everyone had the foresight to listen to what I say and determine that I am trying to show them a better way, but they don’t.
“Treat each person individually: Some will never change; others listen and try to improve. Work with those and try to get the normal in the office to be what you want. The ones that don’t change and won’t listen will finally realize they have to get on the right train if they want to succeed in the organization.
“Listen first and then provide encouraging words: either ‘Great job!’ or ‘This is what I would have done.’”
We appreciate your sharing your tips by responding to our questions in the e-letter and commenting on the Nitpickers’ Nook blog.
Stand Out, Speak Up and Assert Yourself!
Like it or not, we have all been the victims of snap judgements at some point in our careers—often without even knowing that it was happening.
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