Is the famous Suggestion Box really a good idea? Or is it the place where employee engagement for continuous improvement goes to die?
I have never experienced a Suggestion Box system that really worked. It has not mattered if the Suggestion Box system have been a digital system or just a plain old physical mail box. The problem has not been in the collection of the suggestions. It has mainly been in what happens after. Typically it will take quite some time from when a suggestion is filed until any real feedback is given to the employee. Suggestions are often stockpiled in an ever-growing backlog and then processed in batches. This leads to very long lead times and a very slow feedback cycle.
I have personally experienced several weeks of wait for a no-brainer improvement that saved the company 10.000 of dollars per year. Then moving from decision to implementation took almost another 6 months. I never filed any more suggestions after that! Even if the suggestion was implemented
It is often quite easy to come up with number of suggestions for improvements. It is not too hard to brainstorm a long list of improvement ideas. But is this scattershot approach to improvements really helping us? What we really need is leaders that regular meet with employees and practice structured problem solving (e.g. A3 or Improvement Kata/Coaching Kata) on a daily basis.
Daily work = Delivering value + Improving way of working
If you insists on having a Suggestion Box after all. Then you need to give fast feedback to the employee who made the suggestion. In my experience it should not take more than a few days and no longer than a week. Actively involve the employee in elaborating on the suggestion so it can be tried. Give the employee recognition for the suggestion and their effort.
I really like this formula for job satisfaction from Michael Ballé and Freddy Ballé in their latest book: Lead With Respect: A Novel of Lean Practice
JOB SATISFACTION = ENGAGEMENT + INVOVEMENT + RECOGNITION
This is my Lean/Agile Advent Calendar. I will publish a short post on a Lean/Agile topic every day up until Christmas. I will based each days topic on what is behind the door in the LEGO® City Advent Calendar. So be sure to check back every day!
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