What is the number one fear around crowdsourcing ideas from employees?
Answer: How do I know our people will get involved and contribute?
It’s the number one question I get asked whenever talking to new clients, and what they really mean is: we’ve never done this before, it’s potentially highly visible; I need to convince the execs who have also never done this; I don’t know how it works, and therefore it's a significant risk on my shoulders!
There are a few principles to a successful crowdsourcing initiative, but the most important one for me is treat your employees like customers.
Knowledge is currency (a cliché I know), but you want what’s in your employee's heads, and you want them to make the time and effort to share it with you: Which means you have to sell it to them!
How do you do that? Quite simply, it’s about sharing your vision and helping them understand how they can be a part of it. Here are four key points and examples you should think about communicating to your employees when launching an initiative:
- Tell them what you are trying to achieve (hint: they love a bit of honesty):“We have gone through many acquisitions, and subsequently our customers don’t have a consistent and joined-up experience when working with us. We want to change that.
- Say why it’s important: “We want to become known for our customer experience to grow our market share.”
- Make it clear how employees can help: “Our value is in you, our people. You know where things slip through the net, and the things we are doing that don’t make sense. We want to hear your ideas on how we can improve”.
- Point out what's in it for them: I’ve seen companies give away vouchers, iPads, and even coffees. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be something as tangible as that. It could be through a scheduled lunch with the CEO to share ideas. Who doesn’t like a bit of recognition? We all do! You could give employees the opportunity of working with a project team to develop their ideas, or encourage them to join an innovation committee. Just knowing that they'll have visibility in the business can be the trigger that inspires participation.
I hope this gives some food for thought for anyone considering how to engage their employees to solve business problems and drive innovation.