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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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Chapter 63Encourage SuggestionsHave an Appetite for New Ideas

When employees make suggestions, it is a strong indication they are thinking! They are bringing their brains to work. Given the relentless rate of change in the world today, no organization can afford to have employees at any level who merely do what they are told. We all need people who bring their brains to work, and we need to foster cultures that have an appetite for new ideas.

Most of us (probably all of us) care where a new idea comes from. If it comes from someone we see as a respected authority on the topic, we immediately believe the idea is worthy of serious consideration. If it comes from a 21-year-old, brand-new employee we might not give it as much weight. Or, God forbid, it comes from a new hire who just joined us from a competitor. In that case, we might even be very defensive. To what extent should the where or the who influence how we respond to an idea?

In many organizations, experienced new hires attract criticism when they say, “In my former company we did X, and it worked really well.” If that new hire came from a highly successful company, they might discuss their former company frequently, particularly just after they come on board. For some reason, many managers find this annoying. Sometimes, in fact, these new hires are told to stop mentioning their former company.

Why not welcome these statements? When managers make people feel like these statements are unwelcome, they are shutting out opportunities ...

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