When you tell a top manager that they should listen to their employees, ALL their employees, they get a look of intense fear in their eyes. They worry that, if everyone is allowed to speak through a crowdsourcing software platform, it will be taken over by unhappy employees, and customers, using it as a soundboard for complaints. At the same time, they worry that nothing will come out of this practice that can actually be implemented, and, as a result, they dismiss the process out of hands.
It is a known fact, however, that engaged employees and customers are happier, have more confidence in the organization, and become more loyal. Furthermore, if you are afraid that your employees are disgruntled, you are probably right. This, in turn, means that solutions have to be found, and they have to be found straight away.
How to Collect the Ideas the Right Way
Crowdsourcing software does have the potential to become overloaded with ideas – or complaints. This is why you have to frame it properly. This means:
- Being very specific with your challenge. Don’t ask everybody what they think, but ask what they think about a certain issue. You need to keep the scope narrow enough to make sure any information that is provided is valuable. This also signals transparency, which increases trust.
- Make sure you set goals that can be achieved. The goal is not to collect ideas, it is to solve a problem. Know what your resources are, what you want to achieve, and what you believe “success” means. Use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) model at all times.
- Take action! This is your opportunity to show those disgruntled employees and customers that you truly care. If you ask them for their opinion, when they are in a position of disliking you, you also have to make sure that you then take the next step and really listen to what they say. This means making changes and making it clear that those were made in response to people’s problems. Sometimes, it is a quick fix. Other times, it will take a lot of work. But always, you will regain a great deal of trust and confidence from those who had lost it.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. At every step of the process, you have to make sure what you want to do, why you want to do it, when you want it done by, and what the results will be. You should be actively involved in the process by asking more questions and contributing to the discussion as much as possible. If you have an external discussion about an idea, make decisions in terms of changes, reset a deadline, or anything else, you need to make sure that this is properly communicated through all the relevant channels.
There are three key steps to turning the opinions of disgruntled employees into a positive: frame it, listen to them, action. It really is that simple.