You need employees who are creative, especially in a smaller company.
In a smaller company you can change direction much easier.
If you give your employees a sense of their own creativity, they will discover
a capacity to generate rich ideas that can produce revenue or cut costs.
Sometimes you (as the boss) have to go out of your way to hear creative opinions.
Think yourself lucky that you have at least one devoted employee who is constantly ticking over
for you. Embrace that person and encourage their input and reward that person whenever possible.
It will show your other 'less productive' employee's that you value clear thinking and good judgement.
I've found in my own life that competition makes everyone do a better job, make a contest out of it.
Don't make the mistake of placing an employee's value on seniority alone, I've often discovered that
employer's who make seniority a 'sacred cow' in the workplace have created a complete negative element
to those bright, young employee's who would like to contribute to the business success. If they cannot
contribute they will not think twice about moving on and you will lose the benefit of their participation.
(I once got fired from a good job because I aced the company president on the tennis court. And I don't
even like or play tennis. Those employee's with seniority knew how not to let their shadow cross the King).
I would certainly encourage the creative participation - and wouldn't want to stifle it - but I would want them to put their ideas down in writing so that they didn't get lost - and then maybe once every two weeks or so take a few moments to go over them and run them by the group. When there are so few people out there who get really excited by their work - I'd certainly want to embrace it. But try to suppress it and you might lose the employee. I too had some ideas at one time and worked for people who didn't want to listen. Which is why I now work for me - and not for them. I would do anything to have a good idea guy or gal around. Juyst my 2 cents.
Monthly or quarterly is not enough. Ideas don't come during "scheduled times". Sometimes they come at 5 am, while you're partially asleep...sometimes they come while you're sitting ion the "john".
I recommend that you encourage this employee to either "record them" or write them down.
Have organized biz meetings with a fixed agenda. some meetings will not allow time to discuss them. But when possible (often) time should be allotd for his presentation, and brainstorming around them.
Most of the time, this time will be "wasted". but sometime there will be a solution to a problem. Occasionally, a really profound (and profitable) idea may be nurtured.
As a humorous side thought, this reminds me of a movie "Night Shift" where the actor has an instantaneous idea. - He whips out his pocket tape recorder and says: "This is Bill....edible trash"
Most progressive and dynamic businesses are start-ups created by mavericks, dreamers and artists. The traditional non-conformist personality. In order to fulfill general business mandates, in come the HR specialists, bean-counters, marketing strategists and others who by virtue of their designations are brought in to shape and chart a course the mavericks, dreamers and artists could care less about. In come the rules and regulations, which essentially choke off the creative nuances and divert energy into tributaries to be compartmentalized into spheres of responsibility and influence. The stage is set to create the faceless corporate environment, essentially dictated by HR. This environment is Kryptonite to the mavericks, dreamers and artists who are now anxiously looking for a way out of the very business they helped create. Job disatisfaction and frustration sets in and HR becomes a dictatorial clique to eventually squeeze out the non-conformists, and in doing so, the corporate agenda now finds it has to outsource creative thinking and applications expertise. Meetings for purposes of making sure every management speialist receives the very same message at the same time is all very well, but without the non-conformist personalities around to offer their input to provoke multi-dimensional thinking, it usually became more of a controlling factor to keep people in line and to reinforce the party slogans.
I have been involved with three corporate structures in my career and I must say I detested every minute with them. I discovered that corporate environments were more about the stick than the carrot, and very seldom did good, hardworking people break out of their payscale on ability alone. A company Mission Statement, looks good and reads wonderfully on paper, but in reality the corporate midset once in place cannot be unseated and is a crippler of all that is progressive and dynamic. The worst thing any company can do is to elect HR to their board and have them become an integril part of the organizational decision-making leadership.
Thanks for your question - I feel honored to contribute to the other's repsonses...I hope my insights benefit you and others...
It could be worse, but I can understand how an individual with "great ideas" can derail a meeting in a matter of minutes. First, I would recommend an agenda for every meeting. It should be sent out at least 24-48 hours prior to the meeting to assure all learning types can participate with all items productively. I would categorize each agenda by the companies strategic priorities e.g. People, Service, Quality, Finance (Profitability), Growth, Community, etc. This way you always keep a focus on how these agenda items drive the overall annual goals of the company under each strategic priority or bucket. It allows you to connect the dots to the overall goals to the meeting and I have found people like to have the dots connected.
I would further identify time limits for each agenda item and assign a timekeeper for the meeting. With practice you can identify an appropriate time allotment for each item depending upon discussion and input. If others submit agenda items, have them give you the time needed for presentation. Once the time limit is over, it is best to move to the next topic. If discussion needs to continue, you can "Put it in the Parking Lot" for a future meeting or discussion after the other topics on the agenda are discussed if time allows. If more time is truly needed, then it might be best to schedule as you do not want the meeting to end late.
I have heard across multiple industries, "we meet too often", but what I have found is that it isn't about meeting too often, but having ineffective meetings (without agenda, without outcomes, without rules). A physician I worked with at the Cleveland Clinic came up with team rules to help with more productive meetings. I have pasted below to give an idea to create your own, but here are some of my favorites I have seen used...
- All meetings will have an agenda
- Agenda will be sent 24-48 hours prior to the meeting
- No meetings after the meeting
- No sidebar meetings in the meeting - Everyone should hear if in the meeting
- The meeting starts and ends on time
- No silent participants
- Address body language in the meeting (do not let it go)
- Rate each meeting on a 1-5 scale
From the patient satisfaction team
of the Heart Center at Cleveland Clinic Foundation
- Leave rank at the door (all team members are created equal)
- No whining
- At least one bright idea per session
- No sidebar communications
- If you have something to say, say it in the room
- No hostages; leave if you don't want to be here
- Identify problems but focus on solutions
- Review the next objectives before leaving - ensure they are realistic in scope
- Leave with a sense of accomplishment
- Expect work outside of the meeting - use subgroups and task forces
Each meeting is rated by each participant (1 - 10).
Any person ranking the meeting an eight or below gives suggestions for improvement.
Each participant ranks his or her own participation as well, in the same manner
You have an employee who is very creative and has lots of ideas that just might work. His/her creative thinking pops up in your staff meetings and the comments generate a lot of brainstorming by the others. You have found that this creative person really encourages out of the box exploration and don't want to stifle it. But you have company business to get through and can't always allow time for further brainstorming.
What would you do? Add more time to staff meetings? Make one staff meeting each month a time for creative thinking and suggestions? Or once a quarter?
You don't want to turn the employee off but perhaps a meeting every now and then, devoted to free thinking and brainstorming might work. What do you think? What would you do?