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Do you Expect Employees to Contribute?

Do you Expect Employees to Contribute?

author: Lee Buttolph

Are you sick of being the "good idea guy/gal" in your company?  Always having to lead the discussion.  Are you the only one that ever comes up with ideas for improvements?

Well, it is your own damn fault!!! (remember: Fault of the employee is the fault of the manger)

Do you expect your employees to contribute?  Is there not only an expectation but a REQUIREMENT to contribute?  Most bosses let employees wait for them to come up with the ideas and then nod approvingly.

Seth Godin says:

“If you go to bed at night knowing that people are expecting you to initiate things all day the next day, you’ll wake up with a list.” (1)

Here is a great way to operationalize this at your company.  Start "Ideas Wednesday" during the lunch hour.

  1. Buy lunch for your team (pizza works well)
  2. Prior to Wednesday circulate an article (or topic) with questions for people to read prior to the meeting -- article should be something you think could breed discussion (see note below)
  3. Spend 30-60 minutes discussing the article and how your company could adopt the ideas in it
  4. Try to force contentious discussion -- team should not feel comfortable with the ideas
  5. DO NOT DO: Do not talk about day-to-day work -- talk big picture ideas only -- this is a time to grow as a group
  6. DO NOT DO: As the boss/leader, do not dominate the conversation -- just keep it flowing with a lot of questions and challenges to the team member's ideas


  1. It is important that employees see that the boss/leader wants them to think about new ideas and how those ideas can make the company better
  2. It is okay if nothing gets implemented from the meeting
  3. If there are good ideas that come out of the meeting GET THEM IMPLEMENTED ASAP so the employees see that the boss isn't all talk


Some advice on the articles.  These should be new ideas that people in your company have never heard of.  My favorite was to bring in articles that described how other companies priced their products (which was totally different than the way we or our industry did it).  I would ask my team to figure out how we could adopt the idea to our company.  I would passionately argue to implement (usually falsely because the pricing idea most likely wouldn't work) and this would get the employees to passionately oppose me.  It is important to make them work through why they were opposed.  It always ended up being a good time.

If you require your employees to always be thinking of new ways to improve your company there is a great chance they will start thinking of new ideas on their own... even outside Ideas Wednesday!


(1) Godin, S. (2015). Poke the Box: When was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time?. Penguin.