Are you looking for ideas from staff or just information?

Employees don’t contribute ideas when their boss is not interested.

There is often a mismatch in goals between givers and recipients of advice. Though we usually have experience both with seeking and giving advice, when we put our advice seeker’s hat on, we seem to forget our perspective when we are giving advice.

Advice seekers often view the purpose of the interaction to be more information-focused, while advisors view it as more guidance-focused. This disconnect can lead advisors to overestimate the likelihood that their advice will be taken. As a result, advice seekers risk facing unanticipated costs if they don’t take the advice, such as offending the advice giver and reducing their interest in giving more advice in the future.

A recent Employee Innovation Survey considered why employees don’t contribute ideas. The purpose of the survey was to determine if employees have a voice in helping their organisations succeed. The main reason given was that the boss is not interested.

Employees want more power to implement ideas they suggest. They also want management to be more supportive in testing ideas. 23% said nothing happened with their ideas and many were annoyed when time was spent developing an idea and either they weren’t empowered to test it, or they received no feedback on why it wouldn’t be accepted. Feedback was shown to be important in building employee engagement.

The survey shows that 84% of leaders are talking about the need for innovation, however only 69% of employees believe the culture of their organisation actually welcomes new ideas. This result indicates there is a significant gap in organisations ‘walking the talk’ on innovation. Organisations that offer a tool for employees to contribute ideas have much better scores.

Frustration was expressed when leaders said they wanted innovation but were not resourcing it. Management often give the illusion of wanting ideas, but then lack the skills to capture ideas in a simple way, give feedback and implement good ideas.

In progressive organisations, innovation is part of the culture- a continuous process where employees are encouraged to suggest ideas.

The Employee Innovation Survey was sent to about 2,000 employees, with 18% responding and volunteering extensive comments- see below.

The full report on the results is here.

Lynn Wood

IdeaSpies Enterprise, ph 0418 966 625

Rate Idea

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 4.89 out of 5)

2 responses

  1. Outstanding, Lynn. Proof Positive that the role of the supervisor as facilitator of ideas for improvement is such a necessary thing. If only we can facilitate active involvement from the tops down, to get senior managers to ask their people and to then get those people to ask their employees, all the way down to the people who actually MANAGE the job and the people who actually DO all the work.

    Only the workers produce; all the rest of the people are simply OVERHEAD. Getting the workers at the bottom aligned to the missions and goals of the people at the top is the critical component.

    “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world” (John Le Carre) is an organizational reality. The people at the top do NOT understand how to actually DO any of the work itself and are thus incapable of generating workplace improvements. And the workers, as your data clearly show, are not very motivated to offer their ideas (or share their best practices).

    What we NEED are workplace improvement initiatives that have trust and perceived value and a strong sense of collaborative teamwork to influence those cross-departmental boundaries that everyone finds so common.

    I will start blogging around your data, too, and offer some suggestions for how to implement improvement using our Square Wheels tools. Check us out at — and have FUN out there, too!

What do you think?