A crucial part of running a business is taking time to gain perspectives that may differ from your own. Running a business can be extremely insular, and it is often best to get input from others to avoid making flawed decisions. One of the best places for leaders to source advice from is your own employees.
Yet, their unique perspectives will probably vary widely, depending on past experiences, personal biases and priorities. With so many differing opinions it can be difficult to know who to listen to.
To find out more, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council the following:
What do you look for when determining whether an employee’s advice is worth taking to heart?
Here’s what they had to say:
Ideas are a dime a dozen. Solutions, however, are worth exploring. The best way for an employee to stand out with their suggestion is by offering it alongside an action plan and an analysis of its impact or ROI on the overall business. That way, it’s easier to consider whether or not it is a viable idea that can contribute value to the organization.
If the advice is attempting to make us better as a whole, I will always hear it out. I’m very selective about who I take personal advice from, but I’m always interested in making my company better. Lots of great ideas have come from my staff over the years, so I try to be as approachable as possible when it comes to ways I can make the company better.
If the employee has a similar amount of passion for your business as you do, it will likely behoove you to take their advice seriously. This is how you know that their ideas and advice on changes to make to your company are being done not as a one-off complaint, but as a suggestion on how to better pursue the vision that the company is working toward.
When evaluating advice, I first look to determine if the source is credible. For example, I wouldn’t hire a financial adviser with a track record of losing money. I use the same logic with my employees and put more trust into the feedback provided by high-performing employees. Advice from team members barely getting by would be much less valuable than advice from a star employee.
If an employee is giving sincere advice that comes from a place of wanting to help out not only themselves but the entire company, it’s worth taking it to heart. Advice that’s being given with the greater good in mind is always something you should stop and think about.
If they have qualities of a trustworthy hard worker that cares about the work they’re doing, that’s a good indicator that their advice comes from a good place. It’s easier to take the advice of people you already know, and it’s the boss’ job to get to know their employees. If they’re honest and hardworking, it’s best to hear them out so you can improve how you run your business.
If the employee coming to you with advice is someone who is consistent in their usually positive or uplifting behavior, then it’s probably best to take that advice seriously. You can usually tell when someone has your best interest at heart by the way they approach you with the advice, so take note of how they feel. This is a big indicator of what their intentions are.
There are two pieces of history to evaluate: One, has this employee historically given advice that, when taken, results in a positive outcome? Two, has this employee historically given advice that is fact-based versus opinion-based? If either, or hopefully both, of these requirements are met then you can feel comfortable that you are making an informed decision to trust your employee’s insight.
Often, the employees who come up with the most sensible advice are the ones who are directly affected by, or in charge of, a process. These members of staff can spot gaps and anticipate problems arising from plans set forth by managers who may not be able to foresee the entire depth, scope or context of a particular issue. Small complications can hamper the execution of an otherwise great plan.