Have you ever contributed your thoughts to a suggestion box? Do you ever wonder if anyone reads those little fortune cookie like missives and really do something about them? They seem so out of date yet I have to believe that someone has that job of unfolding and reading what customers have to say about service, products, and whatever else they have on their minds. At least I like to hope that happens. I wonder, though, if after they´re read something else happens like employees actually find out what people think of the work they´re doing.
Do suggestion boxes have a place in training and development? Only if someone goes to collect its contents from time to time, reads through it and then finally does something to affect any change that those suggestions might initiate, the good ones anyway. It´s easy to set up a system that´s intended to create change. And it´s not difficult to convince people, employees and customers alike, that change is afoot. But until people actually study the suggestions and make a commitment toward incorporating them into the way a company runs not a whole lot can happen.
So when I see these suggestion boxes and surveys and other instruments designed to capture our points of view about a service or produce I wonder where my thoughts will land-at the bottom of the collection, on the corner of someone´s desk, or forever in the email in-box on someone´s computer.
If you´re going to ask for suggestions, ask yourselves first if you´re really interested in what people have to say and then whether or not you and/or the powers that be have what it takes to put the good ideas into place. Asking for suggestions is like talking-that´s the easy part. It´s studying, examining, questioning, and then finally doing what it takes to make something happen that´s hard and time-consuming.
Sometimes people are afraid to ask for suggestions because they know about the work involved. Plus, sometimes those suggestions aren´t fully fleshed out and it becomes your job to frame the idea into one that can actually be implemented. That´s hard work, too. Asking for suggestions also shifts the power. Giving a customer or employee the floor doesn´t mean that you´re giving something up, however. It´s really about trying to make something better.
Does your company have a suggestion box? If it did, what would your suggestion be?