No business is perfect and it’s often those at the frontline who spot how things can be done better. If you have a dazzling idea that you think could benefit your company, here’s how to make sure they sit up and listen.
Don’t be shy
Employers like their employees to contribute ideas for improving the business because it shows their staff care about the company. It also gives bosses direct feedback from the people closest to customers - and it might save them money. "Last year an idea from a BT employee saved the company £25million," says Anthony Denatale, Operations Manager at IdeasUK. He says that on average a good idea saves an organisation £1,500.
Spot your opportunity
"Ideas tend to come from a frustration with a product or process that’s not working," says Denatale. If you’re experiencing a persistent problem in your job, then don’t just moan about it; come up with a solution and there’s your idea.
Denatale says that people are often in a better position than their bosses to know what the company can do better. "Managers tend to work at the high level and don’t necessarily see what’s going on below them."
Michael Davies, head of listening channels at HSBC, says the two elements that make an idea successful are originality and research. However, your idea doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. "The smallest change can have a positive impact for a large amount of people," he says.
Do your homework
Before you submit your idea, it’s important to do your research. Talk to your colleagues and find out if other people are experiencing the same problem. How long has it been going on? Are there other solutions? Have similar ideas worked elsewhere? What is the cost of putting your idea into practice?
Davies says it’s vital to consider the consequences of your idea. "If you are recommending a new process, have you considered who it would affect and how their role would be affected?" he asks. "Look at a problem from a customer's point of view as well as your own. Overall, consider the positives and negatives the suggestion could have on all departments it would touch."
Think like a CEO
Without knowing how the company will gain from your idea it is unlikely the CEO will sit up and listen, so it is vital that you clearly set out all the benefits.
Simon North, director of recruitment company Position Ignition says that benefits fall into four broad categories:
Clients: Something that improves the relationship with your customers, whether internal or external
Process: Something that improves the product or development process, such as saving energy
Development: Something that enhances the development or growth of an individual or team
Financial: Something valuable to the organisation from a financial point of view
Approach the right person
Some companies run formal schemes for employees to contribute ideas. If yours is one, then make sure you follow the process and submit it to the correct person in the correct format. It could also be worth including supporting documentation, even if they don’t specifically ask for it. Remember, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to see the potential of your idea and put it into action.
If your company has no formal channel for new ideas, your boss is an obvious first step for submitting your idea. However, it may also be worth approaching the person whose area it will most directly benefit or the person with the power to put it into action.
If you’re unsure of the best person to approach, Simon North recommends finding out if anyone else has had an idea implemented in the past and asking them how they went about it.
Take the credit
Finally, if you have a blinding idea that will revolutionise your company, make sure you get the credit. Putting your idea in writing, talking about it with colleagues and circulating your proposal to number of different people are all good ways to make sure it’s you who is remembered as the one who had that great idea.