3(ish) Minute Moment: The Suggestion Box That Doubles As A Shredder | Propel Change
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3(ish) Minute Moment: The Suggestion Box That Doubles As A Shredder

3(ish) Minute Moment: The Suggestion Box That Doubles As A Shredder

Do you get feedback from your employees?

Do you consistently get feedback from them?

Do you get the same amount of feedback every time or does employee participation drop off over time?

If participation is dropping off, you may have “The Suggestion Box That Doubles As A Shredder.”


Today we’re going to talk about the suggestion box that doubles as a shredder.

So Mike is a buddy of mine, and he’s a director of operations.

He and I were having coffee one day and he was a little bit frustrated because they were asking people for suggestions, and they just weren’t getting a lot of traction.

So I ask him some things that they have tried before.

Have you ever asked for suggestions before?

“Oh yeah, oh yeah. In fact, our CEO is really big on getting people’s opinions. We tried this for three weeks in a row, and by the third week we were getting almost nothing.”

So I ask him to tell me a little bit more.

Let me give you his story as well as the suggestion mentality that people have.

So during the first week, the CEO asked for suggestions by email.

When he does that, a lot of people send in suggestions. They’re excited they’re being asked. And they’re thinking, man some things are gonna be changing around here. This is cool.

Nothing happens.

The second week, the CEO asked for suggestions on a different topic. There’s some people kind of looking like, I don’t know if I’m gonna give you my suggestions or not because, well, if I do, what are you gonna do with them? Because we haven’t seen anything so far.

The third week, the CEO asked for suggestions on yet a third topic. There were very few people that answered that email. And the reason was, they didn’t care about emotionally investing in giving you a suggestion you’re not gonna do anything with.

So that’s why we call this syndrome “The Suggestion Box That Doubles As A Shredder.”

Now, fortunately I was able to tell Mike the worst suggestion box story I have ever heard, hands down, and I think this will keep the prize for a while.

A buddy of mine was a COO of a national company. The national company ended up going bankrupt, unfortunately. It was a great company. I loved actually shopping there.

When they went bankrupt, there were three or four people the last day who were closing everything out. On that last day, they happened to be in a warehouse, and in the warehouse, there was a suggestion box on the wall, which you don’t really see anymore.

So they decided at the very end of the day, we’re going to have some adult beverages, they’re going to pull the suggestion box off the wall, and they’re going to look and see what kind of suggestions people made.

He said it was the most incredible thing.

They put it in two piles. There was a big pile of whining, and then there was another pile that was smaller, but had some really great suggestions in it.

And in fact, he said, “The saddest part of it was, we found five suggestions in that pile, that if we had only done that, our company would have probably still been open today.”

That is my worst suggestion box story.

So this is a case where two years of suggestions floated out when they pulled the suggestion box off the wall.

So I guess the CEO not answering anything for three weeks wasn’t quite as bad.

So does your suggestion box double as a shredder?

Here’s how you know.

Do you get feedback?

Do you consistently get feedback?

Is it about the same number of pieces of feedback every time?

If it’s not, can you improve?

So if you can improve, here’s some things to think about.

First, make a plan and communicate it.

Let people know when we get your suggestions, we have specific criteria that we’re looking for. And based on that criteria, we’re going to choose those suggestions that make the most sense for us to implement.

Also explain, “Hey, look, sometimes we’re not gonna use all of the suggestions. That’s just part of this. We love all of your feedback, but we can’t use everything.”

When you’ve chosen those suggestions, make sure you let everybody know. Because if you don’t, it’s just like the suggestion box is a shredder.

If you do these things, your suggestions that you are getting are likely to improve because people know what criteria you’re looking for.

What am I supposed to suggest about?

How do I know if it’s going to be a good suggestion?

Help them do that, and they’ll help you by giving you great feedback.