I was in the mall this week (bad idea). A large Santa’s village, complete with Santa and his minion of elves, was dwarfed by the queue of kids waiting to sit on Santa’s lap to share what they wanted for the holiday. I remember (years ago!) bringing my three kids to visit Santa and how their imaginations went wild on the ride to his artificial North Pole. They imposed no restrictions on what they dreamed about or felt they could ask for. In their minds, the sky was the limit; everything was a possibility. They had true limitless opportunity thinking …
Let’s move to the workplace. What if your employees had the ability to have true limitless opportunity thinking? What if you asked your employees what they would wish for in 2012?
- What tools would make their jobs easier?
- What education would make them more successful?
- What culture changes would inspire greater loyalty?
- What role changes would engage them more fully?
- What new products or services would inspire customer loyalty?
Employees are on the front lines — they see, hear and respond to the world. They communicate with customers about service, the quality of products and the ease of shopping. They know which tools work and don’t work. They know if the workplace culture engages or disengages. They know what customers think about the business — both positive and negative. They hear what products or services are working well, which aren’t, and what’s missing that customers need. They are powerful information sources.
Most employees keep this information to themselves. They don’t see their knowledge of their environment as an opportunity for discussion. Many times this is because they have never been asked to share what they think — what they want — or even what they dream of for the workplace. And unlike the kids in the line at Santa’s village who are more than ready to tell you what they want (even if not asked), employees will share their ideas only when they are encouraged or specifically asked to contribute.
We work in an environment in which success comes as a result of collective genius — supported by the permission to share, dream, invent, and respond. The more we encourage our employees to think without limitation, the greater the number of options we create. And as the saying goes, “The best way to have a great idea is to have a lot of ideas.”
Consider asking your employees what they would wish for to be more successful in the workplace. Impose no limits. Consider everything. Build a culture of opportunity-thinking.
Photo used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user LadyDragonflyCC -See through my eyes!.