By Allen F. Weitzel
The masses have spoken. I received several emails suggesting that I tackle the subject of how to get suggestions heard and/or how to successfully implement change within an entrenched organization. They are sister subjects. I will try to cover a little ground on both.
Keep It Minimal
The easiest path to change or getting suggestions heard is to make sure you do not overwhelm the leaders of the organization. Only submit one or two ideas at a time. Research the need for your idea, consult with others, and then present a well- thought-out suggestion to the right person, who should receive the idea and champion it through acceptance. Whether suggesting a small idea or trying to change an organization that resists changes, work on one item at a time. If you have a multitude of suggested changes, then keep a list, and as time and conditions allow, submit items from your list one at a time.
Time To Grow
Allow time for your suggestion to be heard, accepted, modified (yes, modified), and implemented. Do not present doom and gloom when trying to sell your idea. Be factual and accurate in all your idea presentations. Know and remember your core facts because you will have to present your idea more than once. Do not worry if your idea is moving slowly up the chain of command. That means the idea still has a chance. If the idea stalls at the approval process, see if there are ways to make the plan clear cut and easier to accept.
Understand the objective of your suggestion. Take the emotion out of it. If your idea is moving along the trail of implementation, avoid sticking your nose into the process as it progresses. Others may be handling the idea implementation. They will decide how to tweak it, if necessary. If their changes do not harm the goal of the idea, then let the process proceed. Only step in if the idea has taken on a negative aura, and it is moving away from the primary goal.
Know the Players
Know the company staff members. Know who does and does not have power, who could destroy your idea, how to communicate and relate to each party, and who has the best interest of the organization in mind. Use select staff members as your ally in working toward change.
If it is in your authority to do so, educate the rest of the employees/organization on the goal of the idea, and how to handle the daily details, especially if the idea requires employee interaction with the guests.
Once the idea is in place, monitor it to see if it is achieving its goals. To do this, make sure the idea or goal is measurable. You may not be the keeper of the flame when the idea is in place. Respect the person who is. However, from a distance, watch to see if the idea is working and only make comments (and to the right person) if the idea is failing. If someone else embraces the idea as their own and you get little credit, that is OK as long as the idea helps the company. If another staff member really takes charge, then step away. You will not be tied to it.
If it is your idea, all others know it, and the idea fails, take the heat for the failure, even though others might have implemented the idea poorly. Additionally, do not brag about which successful ideas were yours.
Do not become an idea machine. Do not create a flood of idea memos coming out of your office like the endless march of waves upon the seashore. If you suggest too many ideas, too soon, everyone will tire of your suggestions. You never want to paint a picture that you are the only one with good ideas. If you act like you are, you will be an idea person with no job or fellow workers to share them with.
Do not get miffed if your idea gets stolen, it is still implemented, and it helps the company. Let it go. Now, if the same person(s) are constantly stealing your ideas and claiming them as their own, quietly take them aside and let them know that you are aware of their actions, and will correct their claims of origination of the idea if they do not start playing straight.
In The End
Not all suggested ideas will be accepted. Understand that fact. However, if all ideas for safety and company well being are ignored, decide if you need to find an operation that better matches your ethics and character.