Facing problems? Your employees probably have solutions

SurveyAn article on the Wall Street Journal blog Deal Journal is reporting that Bank of America’s CEO, Brian Moynihan, announced a new initiative to gather employee feedback from all over the company on how to raise BofA’s productivity and revenue. 

It’s not every day that you hear about top-level executives reaching out to their employees to problem solve some of the toughest problems facing the company.  In fact, in most cases, it’s the top-level executives that are solely the ones doing the problem-solving.  Even in other instances, how often do you see frontline supervisors/managers reaching out to their direct reports to solve larger issues?

It doesn’t happen a lot, and it’s a real shame, because employees have a lot of great ideas.  They’re the ones in the trenches, day-to-day, who know the business.  They interact with the customers, they work with the products, and they own the “hands-on” experience.  Why wouldn’t we want to solicit their feedback?

Because in our culture, a common thought that seems to be ingrained is that only those in positions of power happen to be the ones with all the ideas.  After all, they make the big bucks, right?  They’re getting paid to come up with and make these decisions.  However, how can you make an educated decision or choose a path if you don’t have all options in front of you?

Are your people empowered to come to you with their thoughts and suggestions on doing things in new ways?  If not, you may be slowing yourself down.  You don’t have to be an executive to practice this, either.  You can be a frontline supervisor and still empower your people to try and recommend new ideas.  I’ve found that there’s almost always a better way to do things, no matter what the task is.

In this case, I would have liked to have seen Bank of America go even further in asking their employees about other aspects of the business, such as customer services, processes that can handcuff the customer experience, culture, etc…   but I will give it to them that this is a good start.

What about you?  How open is your door to feedback?  More importantly, how serious do you take that feedback when you receive it? Leave your comments!

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  • Comments (2)
  1. Good to see Leaders listening and encouraging others to come up with solutions. The buy in from the workforce will be that much greater if the ideas come from the “groundfloor”.

    Wonder if the Tories might pick up and run with this approach, instead of coming up with policies and then deciding to listen to the electorate when they meet with opposition like they have with NHS reforms and selling off woodland?

  2. I love it! Creativity can come from anywhere in the organization. In fact, “thinking outside our box” often means getting with someone outside of our box! I had an experience at my company just this morning that drove this home: http://codyloucks.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/getting-outside-of-your-box/

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